Olive oil has a long history of use in cosmetic products, used for its nourishing and moisture-binding properties on the skin and hair.
While it may be a fantastic ingredient in adult skin and body care products, research shows that Olive oil may be contributing to a rise in cases of eczema in young babies.
Professor Cork, a leading dermatologist from the University of Sheffield, published research into the effects of Olive oil on babies’ skin.
He demonstrated that due to the oil’s high levels of oleic acid (a natural fatty acid), it can weaken the stratum corneum (the delicate top layer of skin) and increase the risk of dryness, eczema and skin irritation in babies under 3 months.
What are the concerns about Olive oil for baby massage?
There are concerns that some parents may be unaware of the potential damage that Olive oil can do to their baby’s skin, using it for baby massage, to treat dry skin and applying it to cradle cap.
Adult skin is thicker and able to cope with exposure to oleic acid, but young babies are susceptible to damage because their skin is much more delicate.
When the stratum corneum is weakened it causes impaired barrier function. This means that external aggressors and other irritants can penetrate the skin more easily, which can lead to more severe skin problems and inflammation.
Plant oils such as Safflower and Sunflower have a more balanced fatty acid profile, with a higher percentage of linoleic acid than Olive oil and a lower percentage of oleic acid. This makes them ideal for use on newborn babies and fantastic nourishing ingredients in baby care products.
A useful method to tell if an oil is high in oleic acid is to put the oil in the fridge. If the oil goes cloudy, this is a sign that it contains higher levels of oleic acid. Different varities of sunflower produce varying levels of oleic acid.
Instead of Olive oil for baby eczema:
If you are looking for natural, eczema-friendly skin care then you may like to try Organic Babies' best-selling Soothing Baby Salve. This soothing, protective salve is deeply nourishing for sensitive, eczema-prone skin and is free from Olive oil.
"This is the best product I have found for my baby’s eczema. His arms were in a terrible state, weeping and red raw. I used this product and within 2 days his arms were significantly improved." Carla
Other recommendations for parents
Professor Cork also recommended that parents avoid products containing harsh detergents, such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), as these can also weaken the skin barrier. Shop for SLS-free baby wash
Do you have any questions about the link between Olive oil and eczema in babies? Get in touch with our friendly customer care team by emailing email@example.com, or calling 01403 740350.