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.
Image ID : 81118389
Copyright : Dmitry Pichugin
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
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.