Liquid Paraffin: An Overview
Liquid paraffin is used in cosmetics and skin care products to lock moisture into the skin. It forms a barrier and as such, is known as a skin lubricant or emollient. For this reason, it is popular in products meant to moisturise, soothe, and improve the texture of skin — especially in products meant to treat dry skin conditions.
Liquid paraffin can be found in anti-itching products, specifically those targeting people with eczema, dry/flaky skin, skin inflammations such as dermatitis, some psoriasis products, ichthyosis (a condition in which skin becomes abnormally scaly or dry), and pruritus — drying and itching as a result of ageing skin.
Some eye protection products also use liquid paraffin to protect the skin for conditions such as:
- Decreased sensitivity of the cornea (a reduction in the cornea’s ability to respond to stimuli).
- Soreness in the eye due to injuries caused by fingernail scratching or corneal disorders.
- Eye surgeries that require more ointment on the eye.
- Decreased tear production caused by keratitis sicca (inflammation of the membrane that covers the eye).
- Inflammation of the cornea (keratitis exposure).
Doctors may also prescribe liquid paraffin-containing products for medical conditions not listed above. Patients who use liquid paraffin must follow all directions given by their physician regarding this medication. Unless told otherwise by a qualified physician, it must be used at the same time each day. Dosage depends on the patient’s condition, age, medical history, gender, and on whether or not the patient uses medicines that may interact with liquid paraffin.
In conditions such as eczema, products containing liquid paraffin can be used even after the skin has improved to prevent future skin issues. Regular use of products with this ingredient help patients achieve best results.
Side effects and precautions
Most persons prescribed medications with liquid paraffin do not experience serious negative side effects due to use of this ingredient. In rare cases, serious allergic reactions could occur. These require immediate medical attention. Some symptoms of these reactions may be: itching, pain, skin inflammation (dermatitis), burning, and temporary vision blurriness (in eye products with this ingredient).
Alcohol intake is not known to have a negative interaction with products containing liquid paraffin. Those with certain medical conditions, allergies to emollients, or other allergies should notify their doctor to prevent negative interactions. Anyone undergoing surgery or dental procedures should notify their physician or dentist if they are using products with liquid paraffin. Liquid paraffin is suitable for use when pregnant or breastfeeding, but it is important to consult with a doctor with any questions. One can even limit their use of products containing this ingredient while pregnant or breastfeeding. Liquid paraffin is also suitable for those who are elderly.
Overdose of products containing liquid paraffin may result in greasier skin. Accidental ingestion could result in reactions such as vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea. Products must be applied at the time prescribed. If one misses a dose, it can be applied when remembered as long as directions in the packaging are followed.