Allantoin is a compound that is present in many living things, including plants and animals. In skin care, companies use allantoin to reduce irritation and sensitivity.
Allantoin can be in many skin care products, including cleansers, lotions, serums, and face masks.
Due to its anti-irritant properties, companies tend to add it to products that hydrate and soothe the skin. This ingredient is suitable for sensitive skin and is safe for humans.
Keep reading to learn more about allantoin in skin care, including its benefits, uses, safety, and risks.
Allantoin is a naturally-occurring chemical compound. In its pure form, it is a white, odorless powder.
Many plants contain allantoin, such as comfrey, horse chestnut, and bearberry. Additionally, some mammals excrete allantoin in urine. While manufacturers can extract allantoin from plants, they prefer making it from urea and glyoxylic acid.
Companies add allantoin to many personal care products due to its ability to protect the skin from irritation. It temporarily stops irritants from inflaming wounds or sensitive skin.
There are different forms of allantoin, in addition to its pure form. These include:
- allantoin ascorbate
- allantoin biotin
- allantoin panthenol
Combining allantoin with other substances produces different effects. For example, aluminum salt of allantoin is an effective antiperspirant and acne treatment.
Allantoin has many skin care benefits, including:
However, the comfrey extract was more effective than pure allantoin. This suggests that a combination of compounds in comfrey root has a beneficial effect on irritation.
Atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema, causes inflamed, itchy, and dry skin. It is especially important to soothe these symptoms in young children to prevent them from scratching and breaking the skin.
Allantoin, aloe vera, and oatmeal all have anti-inflammatory properties, which may make them useful additions to a treatment regimen for child eczema alongside medications.
Benzoyl peroxide is a first-line acne treatment. However, its drying effect on the skin may accelerate aging and discourage people from using it. This may lead to worsened symptoms and more acne scarring.
In a small 2020 study of 31 women, participants responded well to a new acne regimen containing allantoin and a blend of ceramides. Overall, they noticed a reduction in acne symptoms and improved skin barrier function.
A combination of allantoin and onion extract has been available as a scar-treatment gel for several decades. Proponents claim onion extract has anti-inflammatory properties, whereas allantoin is hydrating and epithelizing. This means it helps to grow new skin cells.
Pectin and allantoin already have many uses in the pharmaceutical and beauty industry. However, both show promise for aiding wound healing. A 2020 study found that pectin-allantoin films sped up healing time by 25% in rats with skin wounds.
Studies that investigate the wound healing properties of allantoin tend to use animals, so the results may not apply to humans. That said, the results of this study are promising and suggest that pectin and allantoin could have uses in wound care.
There are a variety of products that contain allantoin, including:
- hair serums
- hair masks
- eye shadow
- facial moisturizers
- hand creams
- foot creams
- body washes
- makeup removers
- baby sunscreen
- baby shampoo
- baby soap
- baby lotion
There is no data to suggest allantoin is unsafe. According to the Environmental Working Group, there is currently no evidence it:
- is toxic to humans
- causes cancer
- accumulates in the body
- negatively affects the environment
Allantoin does not often cause adverse effects when someone uses it according to the product instructions. However, it is always possible for topical products to cause irritation or an allergic reaction, especially if they contain many other ingredients.
If any of the following occur, wash the product off immediately and stop using it:
- redness or discoloration
Do not use allantoin for:
- deep puncture wounds
- animal bites
- serious burns
If someone is handling pure allantoin powder, it is important to take steps not to inhale it or get it in the eyes. Wear a protective mask and goggles to prevent this. If someone swallows allantoin powder, call Poison Control immediately.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening. The symptoms develop suddenly and include:
- swelling of the face or mouth
- fast, shallow breathing
- a fast heart rate
- clammy skin
- anxiety or confusion
- blue or white lips
- fainting or loss of consciousness
If someone has these symptoms:
- Check whether they are carrying an epinephrine pen. If they are, follow the instructions on the side of the pen to use it.
- Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
- Lay the person down from a standing position. If they have vomited, turn them onto their side.
- Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.
Some people may need more than one epinephrine injection. If the symptoms do not improve in 5–15 minutes, or they come back, use a second pen if the person has one.
Before using a product that contains allantoin, it is best to perform a patch test. This can tell someone if the product is safe for them to use.
To do this, apply a small amount of the product to a patch of skin. For example, a person might apply a moisturizer to a patch on the inside of the arm. If no irritation occurs in the next 24 hours, it is likely safe to use.
How a person uses allantoin-containing products depends on the type of product, instructions for use, and what they are trying to achieve. For example:
- Cleansers. People may wish to use allantoin within a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser suitable for sensitive skin. Gently massage or lather the cleanser on the face before washing away and drying with a clean towel. Avoid the eyes and any areas of broken skin.
- Toners or serums. Apply these products after cleansing and before applying thicker moisturizers. Again, avoid damaged skin. Allow to dry or sink in before moving on to other steps.
- Creams and lotions. Apply these last in the routine, concentrating on areas of dryness or irritation.
Allantoin is a protective and conditioning ingredient present in many personal care products. It also has applications for managing medical conditions, such as acne, eczema, and wounds.
Generally, allantoin does not cause side effects and is safe for humans and the environment. However, if someone wants to try an allantoin skin care product, they should do a patch test first to ensure they are not allergic to any of the ingredients.