I asked Karina, one of my students who is also a clinical aromatherapist, to write a blog piece for me, as despite my Blog on Weleda so far no one has come up with so much specific research to support or exclude the use of almond oil in skin care products: especially for baby massage. In response to Karina’s blog, Weleda has now supplied some further information which helps me feel more confident in recommending the use of their products with babies and pregnant women.
Interestingly, just as I was about to publish the blog, February 23 20015, the results from the LEAP study were finally released . Over 600 children were studied and the results show that the incidence of allergy was lower for children who consumed peanuts early in life. “For decades allergists have been recommending that young infants avoid consuming allergenic foods such as peanut to prevent food allergies,” notes Professor Lack, the lead investigator for the LEAP study. “Our findings suggest that this advice was incorrect and may have contributed to the rise in the peanut and other food allergies.”
These findings are interesting and beg the question whether the same results can be expected with the use of oils ie exposing infants to some oils may reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
It is also important to note that there is no evidence to suggest that the allergic reaction to the topical application of almond oil would be the same as the food allergy response ie anaphylaxis. The only noted reaction that has been found is skin irritation which settled quite quickly. Furthermore we have to remember that the guidance on nut avoidance related primarily to peanuts, rather than almonds.
Allergies are triggered mainly by proteins. The concentration of proteins in vegetable oil is low, but even in refined vegetable oil, proteins are still detectable. In children there is a close association between food allergies and eczema, and in young patients with atopic dermatitis the use of peanut oil-based ointments has been associated with a significantly increased prevalence of peanut allergy. It is thought that food sensitization does not always occur in the intestinal tract. (1) As a result, in Germany peanut oil is no longer recommended for use on babies or atopic skin. (2)
Relatively few studies exist on the effect of almond oil on the skin. However, sweet almond oil has been traditionally used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics for hundreds of years. In folk medicine it is used for the topical treatment of skin irritations and nappy rash. In cosmetics, sweet almond has been recommended as a highly tolerable and generally applicable base oil for all skin types, including sensitive skin and baby skin. (3) Because of its high compatibility, doctors in French hospitals have applied sweet almond oil in a randomized controlled study to examine the effects of massage on preterm infants. No adverse dermatological events were observed in this study. (4).
Plant oils from seeds and kernels are precious gifts from nature. The sun leads their development process, so they are warming and nourishing – helping your skin feel cosy and comforted. They contain a special mix of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for the metabolic processes in the skin. The fine, almost transparent almond oil is renowned for being well tolerated by all skin types, and has a calming, healing effect on skin. Containing omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, it is highly effective at protecting skin against moisture loss, and strengthens the skin’s own natural barrier.
Weleda’s almond oil is organic, which would reduce the amount of potential contaminants or residues of pesticides. The compatibility of each Weleda cosmetic product is tested in voluntary test panels by patch tests. The panels for these tests consist of individuals with sensitive or atopic skin. To date, these products have proven highly compatible even with this type of skin. Based on Weleda’s own test results, post-marketing surveillance data, the long history of traditional use of almond oil and the lack of epidemiological and clinical studies providing solid evidence that allergies can be induced by topical application of almond oil, the Weleda group believes that the probability of an allergic reaction from using cosmetics that contain almond oil is very low.
In my next Blog, I am going to reproduce Karina’s interesting article ,which discusses this topic some more. However in summary, while we feel that vegetable oils, especially almond, can be very beneficial, it is always important to patch test the skin to be sure there is no skin reaction. This is especially important for babies suffering from eczema.
Karina describes the patch test:
- A skin patch test is done as follows:
- Take a small amount of your skin product
- Dab a small amount of the preparation on the pulse of your wrist or the crook of your elbow.
- Leave unwashed for up to 24 hours.
- Watch for signs of a skin reaction. Typical signs will include redness, a rash, any form of breakouts on the skin, itchiness, pain, flaking etc. Some people may also experience nausea or respiratory reactions. If any of these signs present themselves, cease use immediately. See your health professional to discuss the reaction.
- Continue to use the product if you do not have a reaction. If you do not have any response, it is likely that the preparation is all right for your skin type. Keep vigilant, however, because sometimes it can be the level of application that can impact you adversely and in this case, it is important to cease immediate usage if any signs of an skin reaction occur.
Karina van der Leeuw – Clinical Aromatherapist
1: Asero, R. Antonicelli, L, 2011 Does sensitization to foods in adults occur always in the gut? Int. Arch . Allergy Immunol, 154:6-14).
2 : Statement BfR (Bundesinstitut fur Risikobewertung) Nr 019//2009: 10.10.2008).
3: Ahmad, 2010. The use and properties of almond oil; Krist et al 2008, Lexikon der pflanzlichen Ole; Kaser 2011, Naturokosmetische Rohstoffe, Moll-and-Wuthrich 1995, Eignung von Mandelol fur die Hautpflege Neugeborener
4 : Vaivre-Douret, 2008, The effect of multimodal stimulation and cutaneous application of vegetable oils on neonatal development in preterm infants: a randomized controlled trial