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November 2017

Robert Chesebrough and the Dermatologic Wonder of Petroleum Jelly

Author Affiliations
  • 1Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 2Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(11):1157. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.3544

Robert Chesebrough (1837-1933) was an American chemist whose serendipitous discovery and scientific tenacity led to one of the most common and enduring treatments in dermatology. He began his career in Brooklyn isolating kerosene from whale oil, but in 1858, his business’s viability was threatened by the first successful American oil well, located in Titusville, Pennsylvania.1