Lanolin (Eczema)

Lanolin is a substance extracted from sheep’s wool, and is the only animal fat that is regularly used in emollients and moisturisers1. As with other occlusives, lanolin works by forming a water impermeable film on the skin and thereby limits water loss across the skin surface.

What does the science say?

Level of evidence: B

HelloSkin’s experts could not find any scientific data on the use of lanolin in people with eczema. However, one study has shown that a mixture of olive oil (70%) and lanolin (30%), more effectively reduced dermatitis in preterm infants compared with a water-in-oil emollient2. In the study the treatments were applied once daily for a period of 4 weeks. In another study, pure lanolin applied twice daily for four weeks was shown effective in treating moderate to severe foot dryness3.

It should be noted that lanolin may cause contact allergy, and that the acetylated lanolin alcohol is believed to be the main sensitiser. However, current extraction and purification methods have lowered this risk of this considerably4.

The concentration of an ingredient is important for its efficacy, and therefore products containing the same ingredient may not necessarily have the same effect as in the studies mentioned above. Updated: July. 2017

Updated: July 2017


1[Principles of Skin Care, 2010, R Penzer]

2[Pediatr Dermatol. 2008

3[Cutis. 2003

4[Br J Nurs. 2000