Lanolin is an oily substance taken from sheep's wool. Lanolin poisoning occurs when someone swallows a product that contains lanolin.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call the local emergency number (such as 911), or the local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
Lanolin can be harmful if it is swallowed.
Symptoms of lanolin poisoning include:
- Swelling and redness of skin
Symptoms of allergic reactions may include:
- Eye, lip, mouth, and throat swelling
- Shortness of breath
Seek medical help right away. Do not make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to.
Before Calling Emergency
Have this information ready:
- Person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of product (ingredients and strength, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
Take the container to the hospital with you, if possible.
The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated.
The person may receive:
- Blood and urine test
- Fluids through a vein (by IV)
- Medicines to treat symptoms
How well someone does depends on how much lanolin was swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance for recovery.
Medical-grade lanolin is not very poisonous. Nonmedical grade lanolin sometimes causes a minor skin rash. Lanolin is similar to wax, so eating large amounts of it can cause a blockage in the intestines. Recovery is very likely.
Wool wax poisoning; Wool alcohol poisoning; Glossylan poisoning; Golden dawn poisoning; Sparklelan poisoning
Aronson JK. Lipsticks. In: Aronson JK, ed. Meyler's Side Effects of Drugs. 16th ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier; 2016:590-591.
Draelos ZD. Cosmetics and cosmeceuticals. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 153.
Review Date 11/13/2021
Updated by: Jesse Borke, MD, CPE, FAAEM, FACEP, Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.