Lanolin is a moisturizing agent found in sheep's wool. Because of its effectiveness as a moisturizer, it is found in many skin products, including lotions, creams, makeup, baby oil, shaving cream and diaper rash creams. It is also sometimes known as wool alcohol, wool wax and wool grease. Lanolin can typically be used safely on the skin, but it is poisonous when ingested, according to MedlinePlus. If ingested, serious effects can develop.
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Accidentally ingested products containing lanolin can result in lanolin poisoning. When this occurs, you may develop nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Some people's skin may also turn red and swollen. Lanolin poisoning is a serious condition requiring immediate medical attention, according to MedlinePlus. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to by a medical professional or poison control center.
Although not common, some people are allergic to lanolin. An allergic reaction can develop anywhere from several minutes to several days after using products containing lanolin. Reactions typically involve only the skin and appear as a contact dermatitis rash, according to DermNet. The rash generally appears on the face, neck and arms—areas where lanolin products are typically applied. Severe allergic reactions may also cause swelling of the mouth and throat, difficulty breathing and dizziness. A severe reaction such as anaphylactic shock requires immediate medical attention.
Topical use of products containing lanolin can cause skin reactions in some individuals. These effects include redness or irritation where the product was applied, or a stinging or burning sensation, according to HealthSquare.com. More serious skin reactions include a softening of the skin or the feeling as though the skin is soggy. Some people may also notice the skin appears lighter or may develop skin infections. These more serious effects should be reported to a health care professional immediately.