URL of this page: //medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002663.htm

Lanolin poisoning

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 your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

Lanolin can be harmful if it is swallowed. 

Where Found

Lanolin may be found in these products:

  • Baby oil
  • Eye care products
  • Diaper rash products
  • Hemorrhoid medicines
  • Lotions and skin creams
  • Medicated shampoos
  • Makeup (lipstick, powder, foundation)
  • Makeup removers
  • Shaving creams

Other products may also contain lanolin.

Symptoms

Symptoms of lanolin poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Swelling and redness of skin
  • Vomiting

Home Care

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

Poison Control

Your local poison 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 number 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)
  • Laxative
  • Medicines to treat symptoms

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well someone does depends on how much lanolin they swallowed and how quickly they receive treatment. 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.

Alternative Names

Wool wax poisoning; Wool alcohol poisoning; Glossylan poisoning; Golden dawn poisoning; Sparklelan poisoning

References

Draelos ZD. Cosmetics and cosmeceuticals. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 153.

Kulig K. General approach to the poisoned patient. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 147.

Update Date 10/13/2015

Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.