Are There Any Dangers of Using Lanolin?

Lanolin is an oily substance obtained from sheep wool. Manufacturers extract sebum from the wool, then clean and refine it to produce a final product known as anhydrous lanolin. Lanolin combines easily with water, making it a useful ingredient in hand creams, lotions, moisturizers, sunscreens, makeup products, hairspray and shaving cream. Lanolin is generally safe, but a few problems are associated with this substance.

Lanolin is derived from sheep wool. (Image: Nancy Reynoso de Murrian/iStock/Getty Images)

Pesticide Residue

Livestock owners routinely dip sheep into insecticides because these animals are susceptible to pests. A study published in the September 1992 issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" found that lanolin samples contained several types of pesticide residues, and the contamination level varied significantly among batches. The authors noted that pesticide levels were not high enough to be immediately dangerous, but the residue presented two specific dangers: Some of the identified pesticides potentially could accumulate in fat tissue, and some could accumulate in the milk of breast-feeding women.

Allergic Reactions

A component of lanolin, wool alcohol, is the main source of allergens connected with this substance. People who are allergic to wool alcohol may develop allergic contact dermatitis, a type of rash, when they use products containing lanolin. A rash from contact dermatitis may involve noticeable swelling, redness, itching and even blistering. It can affect not only the skin where lanolin was applied, but anywhere else on the body the individual has touched, such as the eyelids. The rash usually develops within several hours of using the product and dissipates over a few days.

Poisoning

Swallowing products that contain lanolin can cause poisoning, according to the MedlinePlus website. Signs of lanolin poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, rash, and skin redness and swelling. Eating large amounts of lanolin can cause an intestinal blockage. If a child or adult swallows a lanolin-containing product, seek immediate medical attention. Serious cases of lanolin poisoning may require gastric lavage, or the emptying of the stomach contents through a tube inserted into the digestive tract through the mouth. Additional treatment may include the use of activated charcoal, breathing assistance and intravenous fluids.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

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.