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What Are the Symptoms of a Lanolin Allergy?

By Meshell Powell
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Lanolin is a type of oily or waxy substance that is produced from the wool of sheep or other similar animals. Some people may have a lanolin allergy, causing them to develop symptoms when coming into contact with wool or other products containing lanolin, such as cosmetic products and lotions. Some of the most common symptoms of a allergy to lanolin include a rash, swelling, and nasal congestion. Additional respiratory symptoms may develop in some people and are particularly dangerous for those with lung problems such as asthma.

Those with a lanolin allergy are unable to wear clothing made from wool without developing negative symptoms. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person, but often presents as an itchy rash. The itching may begin as the first symptom, followed closely by the development of a rash. In some cases, the rash appears only on the area of the skin that has been directly touched by the wool. In other situations, the rash may be widespread and cover a large portion of the body.

Many cosmetic products, such as make-up, lotions, or ointments, contain lanolin because of its strong emollient properties. It is important for those with a diagnosed lanolin allergy to check the ingredients of these products very carefully before use. In addition to itching and the development of a rash, those with an allergy to lanolin who use cosmetic products containing this ingredient may develop swelling of the lips, face, or hands. Small, fluid-filled blisters sometimes appear at the area of contact.

Due to its versatility, lanolin is also used in a variety of additional products, including ink, furniture polish, and leather. Many industrial products contain lanolin, often limiting career options for those with an allergy to lanolin. Considering the multitude of products that may contain lanolin, a person with a lanolin allergy must be extraordinarily careful when using any new product that may contain this ingredient.

A lanolin allergy may sometimes cause small, fluid-filled blisters at the area of contact. Some cases of eczema are thought to be connected to the repeated use of products containing lanolin by those who either have an undiagnosed allergy or who use products without realizing they contain this ingredient. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases and conditions and is often the best type of doctor to see if a person suspects a possible lanolin allergy.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1004232 — On Dec 18, 2020

I have a bar of what I believe to be lanolin. How can ID it or where can I get an ID?

Thanks.

By anon994595 — On Feb 22, 2016

Hi, I'm quite concerned that I have this problem but I cannot be sure, because in the past I have not reacted badly to all products that I assume contain lanolin, but many other products have given me a rash!

By donasmrs — On May 17, 2013

@fify-- Dry skin can be a symptom of an allergy; it's a symptom of dermatitis which often occurs due to an allergy. Do you develop dry skin only after using products with lanolin? If so, it is an allergy.

Not everyone has the same allergic reactions to lanolin. It might cause a serious blistering rash in one person and just some skin irritation and dryness in another.

You can get an allergy test if you want to confirm it but it's probably not necessary. If your dry skin symptom goes away when you don't use lanolin, just avoid it.

By fify — On May 17, 2013

Is dry skin a lanolin allergy symptom?

By SteamLouis — On May 16, 2013

I think I have a lanolin allergy. I started using a new facial moisturizer with lanolin in it and it made my skin red and itchy. I've stopped using it.

Now that I think about it, I also can't wear wool sweaters because they make me itch. It's unfortunate because I've heard that there are many benefits of lanolin.

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