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Dermatology. 1996;192(3):198-202.

The lanolin paradox.

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Maccabee Dermatologic Outpatient Clinic, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.


Several puzzling aspects of the use of lanolin are discussed as "lanolin paradoxes', in analogy with the 'paraben paradoxes'. Lanolin in topical therapeutic agents sensitizes a high proportion of patients, whereas the same lanolin is 'safe' in cosmetics so widely used by millions of individuals. Patients with an allergic contact dermatitis to lanolin in a medication applied to a stasis ulcer can nevertheless use lanolin-containing cosmetics and not experience a reaction. Lanolin-sensitive individuals often show false-negative patch test reactions to unaltered lanolin. Patch testing with 30% wool wax alcohols used in the standard patch test tray cannot be considered a reliable method for detecting and confirming lanolin allergies. There are too many false-positive and false-negative results using the standard patch test tray.

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