Could You Be Allergic to Aquaphor, Eucerin, and Other Popular Eczema Products?
For the past two months, I’ve been dealing with a stubborn staph infection. In the midst of healing and clearing up, my eczema happened to collaborate with the infection and make things a little bit more challenging.
To relieve the pain and dryness, I had been using Aquaphor - a well-known and recommended emollient and thick moisturizer. Unbeknownst to me, I was creating more damage than good.
A second opinion
After a 7 day period of oral and topical antibiotics, my infection seemed to be getting worse instead of better. So I decided to get a second opinion from another doctor.
She mentioned that not only do I have a staph infection, specifically impetigo, but that my eczema had managed to join in on the fun. (No wonder it was taking so long to heal!)
When she asked me what I was using as a moisturizer, I confidently said, “Aquaphor.” Immediately, she noted to stop using Aquaphor due to an ingredient that could be making things worse - lanolin.
What is lanolin?
What is lanolin and why could those living with eczema or atopic dermatitis be allergic to it?
Lanolin, also known as wool grease or wool wax, is a thick, yellow substance that is secreted from the oil glands of sheep. Its original purpose, to protect the sheep’s skin and wool, has been extracted for centuries to support human skincare. Due to the lanolin’s thickness and waterproof component, this substance has been commonly used in lotions, cosmetic products, breastfeeding creams and more.
Although it has been proven to work for many individuals, lanolin is a questionable ingredient for those living with atopic dermatitis.
Lanolin allergy research
A recent study published in 2018, stated that there were only a few studies on the efficacy of lanolin towards atopic dermatitis patients. Most of these studies focused more on breastfeeding women who were dealing with sore nipples, as well as contact dermatitis due to the application of topical lanolin. They concluded that there is substantial evidence showing a positive association between atopic dermatitis and lanolin contact allergy and that “atopic dermatitis patients should avoid daily application of lanolin” overall.1
In the previous year, 2017, a Dutch study produced staggering results that were in alignment with the study mentioned above. Out of approximately 1000 children who participated in the study and who lived with eczema, 66% of them reacted to lanolin alcohol - highly refined lanolin, which adds a molecule to make the skin feel smoother.2
Side note: Further research suggests that lanolin alcohol is the ingredient most commonly used in skincare products and is the type of lanolin in which allergens are found. Interesting!
Products with lanolin
I was shocked to read and research how many products contained lanolin. Here are a few below:
- Johnson & Johnson
- Nair Hair Removal
- Cover Girl
- Old Spice
Once you research more about lanolin and become observant of the ingredients in the products you use, you will notice that lanolin is an ingredient found outside of just lotions and creams. They can also be found in deodorants, dishwashing soaps, condoms, hairsprays, shampoos/conditioners, body washes, sunscreens, and more!
I have decided to no longer use Aquaphor for the fear that I may be allergic to lanolin. The doctor suggested the replacement of petroleum, which I’m not a big fan of. Read why here. However, I do understand how it is considered safer than its competitor, Aquaphor, so it is something I am re-considering during this time.
Other names for lanolin
There are multiple names that are used interchangeably to represent Lanolin. Be conscious of them when choosing a product. They are:
- Adeps lanae anhydrous
- Aloholes lanae
- Anhydrous lanolin
- Wool fat
- Wool grease
- Wool wax
- Alkoholes lanae
- EINECS 232-430-1
- Lanae alcohols
- Lanolin alcohol(s)
- Wool alcohols
There are other natural ingredients one can use aside from lanolin and exploiting animals like aloe, olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, vitamin E oil, almond oil, or grapeseed oil, etc.
Beeswax, or plant-based ingredients like vegetable waxes and hydrogenated plant oils, can also soothe and protect the skin and alleviate eczema symptoms.
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