Castor Oil for Babies - Health Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Using Castor Oil for Babies – Health Benefits & Side Effects

Babies have extremely soft and delicate skin, so naturally, we can’t use just about anything on their skin. Using one wrong product on your munchkin’s skin can lead to rashes, irritation, chafing, dry skin, and whatnot. So, it is important to be extremely careful while shopping for baby products. While items like baking soda and chemically laden shelf products are known to harm babies’ skin, the use of other products like castor oil for babies is highly debatable as many parents are not aware of its use and benefits.

Castor oil is known to cure a lot of skin and health problems in babies. It has been in use for generations now. But since we are talking about your baby’s health, we know you will have doubts. We are here to clear your confusion. Read on to learn about the properties of castor oil and how using castor oil can be beneficial for your baby’s hair, skin and body. Of course, there are a few precautions you will need to follow while using it on your baby. However, it is best that you consult your healthcare provider before using castor oil for your baby.

Properties of Castor Oil

Castor oil is manufactured by extracting ricinolein, which is found in the seeds of the castor plants. These seeds contain roughly 60% vegetable oil. The castor bean plants contain ricin proteins and are poisonous. Only after processing them can castor oil be obtained.

The primary colour of castor oil is yellow. It can be used for a variety of medicinal as well as therapeutic purposes. Castor oil contains unsaturated fatty acids in high amounts. One of the fatty acids found primarily in castor oil is ricinoleic acid. The presence of ricinoleic acid in castor oil makes it very beneficial, giving it anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties.

It has a strong odour and is used in the manufacturing of soaps, cosmetics, textiles, oils, medicines and many more products that are used on an everyday basis. It is not uncommon to use castor oil for constipation in babies as it is a natural laxative. It can also be used to induce labour.

Is Castor Oil Safe for Babies?

As per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the use of castor oil is considered safe and effective for use as a stimulant laxative by adults. The acceptable intake of castor oil (for men) is 0 to 0.7 mg/kg body weight established by The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives. However, no such dosage is said for babies.

It is important to note that the use of castor oil for newborn babies is highly dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. The oral use of castor oil in infants in the first two to three days of their lives was found to induce paralytic ileus and aspiration pneumonia in one study. It may also cause hypoalbuminemia and malnutrition in infants after oral consumption.

The use of castor oil for older babies, though, is not prohibited and may only be given if recommended by the doctor for a particular purpose.

Benefits of Castor Oil for Babies

There are several castor oil uses for babies that can be undertaken after a doctor’s consult. Let’s check some of the traditional uses and benefits of castor oil for babies:

  1. Castor oil is a great remedy for dry skin in babies. It acts as a great moisturiser and can help keep your baby’s skin smooth and supple.
  2. Castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce swelling and help relieve pain. So, when it is applied over the abdomen, it can relieve abdominal pain.
  3. Thanks to its anti-microbial benefits, it also moisturises the skin, which overall helps to reduce skin problems like flaking, acne, blackheads, warts, and more.
  4. Castor oil is a good humectant. A body massage with castor oil helps the skin retain moisture and prevents heat loss from the body.
  5. Castor oil is also a natural hair conditioner. It nourishes the hair shafts and makes them more flexible, helping decrease hair breakage and fall.
  6. Castor oil is a great massaging product as it relieves sore muscles. Wrap a packet of the oil in plastic before you massage them with it. Also, ensure they do not play with the plastic as it is a choking hazard.
  7. Diaper rashes are due to the erosion of skin by ammonia in urine. Castor oil reduces this skin damage and moisturises the skin, keeping it healthy and free of rashes.
  8. Applying castor oil to the baby’s skin can also relieve sunburn. It can also cure problems like eczema, which is common in babies.

Castor oil massage for baby

Precautions to Take While Using Castor Oil for Your Child

Using castor oil on babies is a topic of debate, but it is generally agreed that it can be used on an infant if the doctor gives the go-ahead. However, the reason that it is debated is that it can be dangerous if used carelessly. There are a few precautions that you will need to adhere to in case you’re using castor oil on your baby:

  • Castor oil is a known allergen. Therefore, while using castor oil on your baby’s skin, be very careful and do a patch test first to rule out any possibility of allergy. Don’t use castor oil on broken skin, as it can cause irritation for your baby.
  • Don’t apply the oil anywhere near your baby’s lips, mouth, eyes, or genitals.
  • Castor oil has poisonous properties, so make sure your baby doesn’t put it in his mouth.

Side Effects of Using Castor Oil on Babies

You must have heard about the popular mention of castor oil for constipation in babies and adults. However, uncontrolled use of this oil is known to cause side effects that are best learned. Mentioned below are some side effects of using castor oil on babies.

  • Castor oil, when taken in small amounts orally, stimulates the forward movement of intestines helping to relieve constipation. Consuming it in large quantities can hyper-activate the intestines, causing abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting, etc.
  • It can also cause mild allergic reactions, like swelling of the face, lips, or tongue.
  • It can lead to stomach pain and, in many cases, even diarrhoea.
  • The uncontrolled use of castor oil may cause aspiration pneumonia.
  • It has the possibility to cause nausea as well.

The administration of castor oil for babies must be done only after the doctor’s approval. After administration, if you notice any of the side effects, contact your doctor immediately.

Castor oil has benefits, but its side effects are fatal. If used correctly, it can help provide relief to your baby from various skin and health problems. But if it is administered in the wrong way, it can prove to be fatal.

As mentioned, it is always best to consult a doctor before you go ahead and use castor oil for your baby. If you’re a pregnant woman, it is best that you stay away from this product, as it can have adverse effects on your health and your unborn baby.

References/Resources:

1. Ujjal Poddar; Approach to Constipation in Children; Indian Pediatrics; https://www.indianpediatrics.net/apr2016/319.pdf; 2016

2. Final report on the safety assessment of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glyceryl Ricinoleate, Glyceryl Ricinoleate SE, Ricinoleic Acid, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Zinc Ricinoleate, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Ethyl Ricinoleate, Glycol Ricinoleate, Isopropyl Ricinoleate, Methyl Ricinoleate, and Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate; Int J Toxicol; PubMed; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18080873/; 2007

3. Assessment report on Ricinus communis L., oleum; European Medicine’s Agency; https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/herbal-report/final-assessment-report-ricinus-communis-l-oleum_en.pdf; February 2016

4. Verheyden. M, Rombouts. S, Lambert. J, Aerts. O;  Contact Allergy to Castor Oil, but Not to Castor Wax; Cosmetics; MDPI; https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/4/1/5; January 2017

5. Oranges. T, Dini. V, Romanelli. M; Skin Physiology of the Neonate and Infant: Clinical Implications Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle); https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4593874/; October 2015

6. Castor; Drug and Lactation Database; National Centre for Biotechnology Information; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501875/; 2019

7. Castor Oil Solution; Cleveland Clinic; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/18391-castor-oil-solution

Also Read:

Grapeseed Oil for Baby
Using Sesame Oil for Infants
Types of Massage Oils for Babies
Almond Oil for Baby Massage

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