Mineral Oil Sensitivity

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Ever since I was a baby, I have had wicked reactions to mineral oil, and consequently have avoided it for the bulk of my life.  My poor mother was unable to apply Johnson’s Baby Oil on me, and had to find other options to moisturize my skin.

Whenever mineral oil is placed on any part of my skin, I experience intense itching within a couple of minutes which starts at the point of contact with the oil, then about a minute or so after that, I develop a fine, sandpaper-like, incredibly itchy rash over my entire body.  I must immediately wash off the oil, then take an antihistamine.  The rash takes hours to subside.

In case you think I am making this up, I have gone for massages and hadn’t paid attention to what oil or cream the therapist was using.  There have been numerous incidents in which I reacted to an oil in the manner I just described above, and upon querying the therapist, discovered without fail that they had applied baby oil, i.e. mineral oil, to my skin.

Strangely, I have never had a pronounced reaction to any other mineral oil based products such as petrolatum, paraffin oil, or paraffin wax, so I have kept items like Vaseline and Aquaphor on hand, and I have never concerned myself with small amounts of mineral oil in body lotions.  However, I have never been comfortable with the fact that mineral oil is ubiquitous, used in everything from lotions, to cold creams, ointments, cosmetics, and personal care products.  Mineral oil is very inexpensive, and helps to lock in moisture, making it desirable for use in skin products.

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But let’s think about where mineral oil comes from.  When crude oil is refined to make gasoline and other petroleum products, such as diesel fuel, jet fuel, asphalt, lubricating oils, and biofuels, mineral oil is one of the by-products which is used in household and personal care products.  I know that there are purifying methods used to guarantee that the substances used in personal care products aren’t toxic, but I am a bit bothered by the usage of crude oil distillates and by-products in this way, and would prefer to avoid them.

The reason why I bring all this up is because I had the worst reaction ever to a post-laser treatment cream which I was instructed to use immediately following a fractional CO2 laser treatment which took place in mid-November of 2020.  I hadn’t used the cream much during the first 36 hours following the procedure, but began using it 5-6 times a day from the 36 hour point on.  Within a couple of hours, I began noticing an incredibly itchy, fine, sandpaper-like rash which appeared on both arms, my chest, belly, hips, neck, and shoulders.  I kept using the cream, and the rash became angrier, and completely robbed me of sleep for the next 2 nights before I decided that I had better check the ingredients on the post treatment cream.  Of course the second ingredient listed was mineral oil.

Hence began my quest to find a rich, emollient cream which would soothe my laser torched skin without exposing me to petroleum products.  I couldn’t use Aquaphor because it had petrolatum, so I turned to a shea butter cream I had…which also had mineral oil.  I broke out horribly.  My next idea was to use cocoa butter cream, but that also had mineral oil in it, so the rash persisted.  In desperation, I turned to raw mango butter, but I discovered that my skin wasn’t fond of that substance either.

It has been nearly impossible to find rich, emollient creams which are free of mineral oil.  I have been on the hunt since November, and have looked everywhere.  I know there are others who have sensitive, reactive skin, and I had even focused my search on treatments for eczema and psoriasis.  What shocks me is that the majority of products for those conditions have…mineral oil.  It’s enough to drive one mad.

It has now been over SEVEN weeks since I had the laser procedure, and since that time, I have been on oral antihistamines, gave myself two hydrocortisone injections, and used everything imaginable to try to get my skin not only to calm down, but to also offer hydration.  Incidentally, my skin is so leathery and parched, that I must apply emollient creams every hour to replenish moisture, and I am STILL battling a constant rash and hives all over my upper body.  The combination of the fractional CO2 laser and the mineral oil cream have essentially ruined my skin.

For anyone who even dares to argue that mineral oil sensitivity is not a thing, I challenge you.  Honestly, I’ve lived with this condition for my entire life, and I am extremely irritated by the fact that dermatologists foolishly avoid the subject, as if it was some forbidden topic.  An article by Lisa Mai Møller Jensen is particularly irksome, because she claims that “medicinal white oils have no sensitization potential in human skin, which means they do not trigger allergies.”  I’d like Ms. Jensen to explain why I have had horrible and immediate reactions to baby oil as a baby and as an adult, and why I developed the SAME rash last November after exposure to mineral oil. 

Hopefully there is a light at the end of this skin rash tunnel.  There are three emollient creams which I have ordered which are free of mineral oil and other petroleum substances, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that at least one of them will give me blessed relief.

Mineral Oil Sensitivity

I was compelled to revisit this topic because I foolishly went against my better judgement and used a product which I happen to hate, with disastrous results. I hate Lubriderm products and think they are a scam due to the presence of mineral oil. Mineral oil is a very cheap filler which is used in skincare products and cosmetics. What many people don’t realize is that some individuals suffer from mineral oil sensitivity and truly cannot come into contact with it. Sadly, I am one of those people.

Lubriderm is touted as a “dermatologist tested” product, which basically doesn’t mean a thing. Apparently the dermatologists who tested this product weren’t aware of the fact that mineral oil can be a very reactive substance for a segment of the population. I for one have ALWAYS been reactive, though I could never understand as a child why I always broke out in itchy rashes within an hour of being exposed to baby oil. To this day, a high concentration of mineral oil will drive me into an itchy frenzy. This was the main reason why I hesitated when the idea of trying Lubriderm once again, but my stubbornness won out.

I used Lubriderm lotion for normal to dry skin for one week, and during that entire time, experienced itchy skin which only got worse at night, as well as a diffuse papular (raised) rash which covered my shoulders, arms, and thighs. On the last day in which I used the Lubriderm, I actually broke out into hives on my thighs!

As soon as I stopped using Lubriderm, the rash cleared up without any intervention. This was a clear sign that I was indeed still very sensitive to mineral oil, and that it was tragic that products could still be found which listed mineral oil among its top 5 ingredients.

PIt’s important to bear in mind that mineral oil is manufactured from crude oil, and as a result can cause pronounced reactions in people who are sensitive. Such reactions aren’t confined to skin rashes, but also include headaches Mineral-Oilor joint aches. Mineral oil can also disguise itself as petrolatum, paraffin, or propylene glycol.

lease please please be aware that mineral oil sensitivity is very real!

Mineral Oil Sensitivity

mineral oilMineral oil is a petroleum product which is used in many cosmetics (including foundations and face powder) as well as ointments to soothe allergic reactions. Ironically, mineral oil can incite allergic reactions which can be severe enough to send one to the emergency room. I always find it alarming how the oil typically used to moisturize babies’ skin is mineral oil, but since it is cheap and hypoallergenic, it continues to be used on infants who may develop reactions to it.

I was compelled to write about mineral oil after I had to use it on my midsection yesterday at a photo shoot. Despite a long history of severe reactions to mineral oil, I reluctantly applied the oil and just hoped that I would not react this time. By the time I got home from the photo shoot I was itchy EVERYWHERE, especially on my arms and legs where I had NOT applied oil. This was a deep, unrelenting itch, one that was not relieved by scratching, and I broke out in a rash on both arms. I was so uncomfortable that I took a shower to soothe my skin. Even with the shower I hardly slept last night because of the itching. I could have calmed the reaction down with Benadryl but did not want to be groggy so I opted not to take it.

Please be aware of mineral oil sensitivity and if you suspect that you might be susceptible, make sure to avoid any products that contain mineral oil. Women who have had regular skin reactions to foundations or face powders should be especially aware of this potential reaction. I NEVER recommend mineral oil to any of my patients and am especially against the use of mineral oil on babies.

As an alternative, you can use almond oil, olive oil, or sesame oil, unless you have allergies to any of those substances.