According to dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology, suggests that petroleum jelly, a common, inexpensive product found in most people's medicine cabinets, can have multiple skin care uses for the entire family. The skin is the body's largest organ, so it's important to take good care of it. However, doing so doesn't necessarily mean breaking the bank.

"When it comes to skin care, expensive isn't always better," said board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Baxt, MD, FAAD, who maintains a private practice in Paramus, N.J., and New York. "Petroleum jelly, which can be found in just about anyone's local drugstore, is great for moisturizing rough, cracked feet, elbows and hands, and protecting kids' scrapes and bumps."

For skin care, Dr. Baxt recommends using petroleum jelly to:

  1. Relieve dry skin, including lips and eyelids: Dry skin can flake, itch, crack and even bleed. Since ointments are more effective and less irritating than lotions, consider applying petroleum jelly to dry skin, including your lips and eyelids. If your eyelids get dry and flaky, apply a small amount of petroleum jelly for moisture and protection.
  2. Help injured skin heal: For minor wounds such as cuts, scrapes and scratches, use petroleum jelly to keep the wound moist. This helps prevent the wound from drying out and forming a scab, as scabs take longer to heal. This will also help prevent a scar from getting too large, deep or itchy. If the wound is cleaned daily, it is not necessary to use antibacterial ointments.
  3. Prevent chafing: Chafing is a painful skin irritation that occurs when body parts rub together or rub against clothing. To prevent chafing that can lead to blisters, apply petroleum jelly to problem areas, such as the feet or thighs.
  4. Treat diaper rash: The best way to prevent diaper rash is to keep your baby's skin as dry and clean as possible. However, if your baby does get a rash, apply petroleum jelly during each diaper change. If the rash doesn't go away, see a board-certified dermatologist.
  5. Rehydrate nails: If you frequently get manicures and pedicures, apply petroleum jelly to your nails and cuticles in between polishes. This will minimize brittleness and help prevent your nails from chipping. For the best results, apply it when your nails are damp.
  6. These tips are demonstrated in "5 Ways to Use Petroleum Jelly for Skin Care," a video posted to the AAD website and YouTube channel. This video is part of the AAD's "Video of the Month" series, which offers tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails.