Lanolin Allergy: History, Epidemiology, Responsible Allergens, and Management

Bailey Lee; Erin Warshaw


Dermatitis. 2008;19(2):63-72. 

In This Article


When discussing allergy to lanolin, it is important to understand the various terminology and synonyms that can be used. The different names and derivatives of lanolin are daunting; this review focuses on compounds commonly used in patch-testing clinics to detect lanolin allergy. Lanolin, in a general sense, refers to “adeps lanae,” the term used for purified wool fat as described above. It is also synonymous with “anhydrous lanolin” and the “wool fat” of the British Pharmacopoeia (BP) ( Table 2 ). The “lanolin” of the United States Pharmacopeia is simply the addition of varying amounts of water to anhydrous lanolin. Eucerin (not the commercial cream marketed under the same name) is composed of paraffins and a mixture of sterols and alcohols obtained from wool fat. A more modern term for this product is “wool alcohols ointment BP.”[4,5] The consumer product Eucerin (Beiersdorf, Hamburg, Germany) contains lanolin alcohols, petrolatum, mineral oil, water, and preservatives. This product is not to be confused with Eucerit (Beiersdorf), which is a purified lanolin alcohol product containing high concentrations of cholesterol. Amerchol L-101 (Amerchol, Edison, NJ) is often used in patch testing today (Amerchol L-101 is now sold as Vilvanolin L-101 [Wickliffe, OH]). It is a concentrated absorption base composed of lanolin alcohols and mineral oil.[7]


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