The debate on which is the best oil to use on a baby’s skin has been going on for some time now and there has been a lot of discussion and confusion around the subject. Although the IAIM policy does not recommend any specific vegetable oil, we do however like to keep up-to-date with the most recent developments and findings. So here is one of the latest studies to be published on the use of oils.
EFFECT OF OLIVE OIL AND SUNFLOWER SEED OIL ON THE ADULT SKIN BARRIER: IMPLICATIONS FOR NEONATAL SKIN CARE
Danby SG, Alenezi T, Sultan A, Lavender T, Chittock J, Brown K, Cork MJ
Academic Unit of Dermatology Research, Department of Infection and Immunity, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, University of Sheffield Medical School, Sheffield, UK.
Pediatr Dermatol. 2013 Jan;30(1):42-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01865.x. Epub 2012 Sep 20.
Natural oils are advocated and used throughout the world as part of neonatal skin care, but there is an absence of evidence to support this practice. The goal of the current study was to ascertain the effect of olive oil and sunflower seed oil on the biophysical properties of the skin. Nineteen adult volunteers with and without a history of atopic dermatitis were recruited into two randomized forearm-controlled mechanistic studies. The first cohort applied six drops of olive oil to one forearm twice daily for 5 weeks. The second cohort applied six drops of olive oil to one forearm and six drops of sunflower seed oil to the other twice daily for 4 weeks. The effect of the treatments was evaluated by determining stratum corneum integrity and cohesion, intercorneocyte cohesion, moisturization, skin-surface pH, and erythema. Topical application of olive oil for 4 weeks caused a significant reduction in stratum corneum integrity and induced mild erythema in volunteers with and without a history of atopic dermatitis. Sunflower seed oil preserved stratum corneum integrity, did not cause erythema, and improved hydration in the same volunteers. In contrast to sunflower seed oil, topical treatment with olive oil significantly damages the skin barrier, and therefore has the potential to promote the development of, and exacerbate existing, atopic dermatitis. The use of olive oil for the treatment of dry skin and infant massage should therefore be discouraged. These findings challenge the unfounded belief that all natural oils are beneficial for the skin and highlight the need for further research.
IAIM RECCOMMENDATION ON THE USE OF OILS
The IAIM continues to recommend an unscented vegetable oil, preferably organically grown and cold pressed if possible. All vegetable oils have different chemical compositions and properties and recent research indicates that any oil with high oleic acid content (ie. olive oil) should not be used on a baby’s skin as it could affect the infant’s immature skin barrier.