Uses for Bag Balm

Workers are milking the cows
A man milking a cow on the farm. (Image: arisara1978/iStock/Getty Images)

Bag Balm, a commercial salve made in Vermont since 1889, comes in a distinctive square green tin. Its original use was for softening and protecting chafed cow's udders, but it has found favor as an all-purpose lubricating balm. Its main ingredients are petroleum jelly, lanolin and 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate, an antiseptic.

Skin Softener

The primary "off label" use of Bag Balm is as a hand cream. The lanolin and petroleum jelly soften and moisturize the skin and keep hands from becoming overly dry.

Skin Protectant

Bag Balm can also be used to protect your hands and face from the chapping effects of cold, windy weather. The petroleum jelly provides a protective layer between your skin and the cold air.

Skin Healing

If your hands are already chapped, abraded or cracked, or you suffer from eczema, Bag Balm can help. The thickness of the salve helps it stay in one place to assist the healing process. Bicyclists use it to treat saddle sores.

Breastfeeding Help

Breastfeeding women are sometimes advised to use Bag Balm on their nipples if they suffer from cracking or chapping. Some, however, question whether the petroleum jelly content is safe for nursing babies to ingest, so ask your doctor before using it for this purpose.

Diaper Rash

Another nursery use for Bag Balm is as an ointment for countering diaper rash. The thick texture keeps it in one place to act as a barrier between skin and diaper, allowing the rash to heal and preventing further irritation.

Other Uses

People's skin conditions aren't the only things Bag Balm has been used for. According to "USA Today," the salve was used to treat the paws of search dogs that worked at the World Trade Center collapse, and by Arctic explorer Admiral Byrd to prevent his company's guns from corroding.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.