Liquid Paraffin – Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Interaction

Liquid paraffin, also known as paraffinum liquidum or Russian mineral oil, is a very highly refined mineral oil used in cosmetics and medicine. Cosmetic or medicinal liquid paraffin should not be confused with the paraffin (or kerosene) used as a fuel. It is transparent, colorless, nearly odorless, and oily and is composed of saturated hydrocarbons derived from petroleum.[rx]

Mineral oil, or paraffin oil, is a mixture of higher alkanes from a mineral source, such as petroleum. Petroleum mineral oil is manufactured from crude oils by vacuum distillation to produce several distillates and residual oil that is then further refined. During the modern refining process, aromatics are reduced by solvent extraction, catalytic hydrotreating, or hydrocracking. Unrefined or mildly treated mineral oils are classified as Group 3 carcinogens by the World Health Organization, as chronic exposure to these aromatics including alkylated polycyclic aromatic compounds (PAC) can lead to skin cancer.

Another Name

  • Drakeol 5
  • Light Liquid Paraffin
  • Light Liquid Petrolatum
  • Light White Mineral Oil
  • Mineral Oil Light
  • Mineral Oil, High Viscosity
  • Mineral Oil, Light
  • Paraffin, Light Liquid
  • Paraffinum Perliquidum


Mechanism of Action of Liquid Paraffin

Mineral oil sits on the surface of the skin and in spaces between cells and provides a hydrophobic barrier 2. This barrier prevents trans-epidermal water loss to trap water in the skin. Overall this leads to greater hydration, flexibility, and softness of the stratum corneum. Mineral oil blocks the loss of water from the skin allowing greater hydration of the epidermis

Indications of Liquid Paraffin

  • Mineral oil is not considered an active pharmacological ingredient in pharmaceutical preparations and so has no official indication. It is typically present in topical formulations as an emollient and occlusive agent [rx].
  • Mineral oil is a common ingredient in baby lotions, cold creams, ointments and cosmetics to treat and prevent dry, rough, scaly, itchy skin and minor skin irritations. It is also used as a mild laxative for human or veterinary uses.
  •  It acts primarily as a stool lubricant and is thus not associated with abdominal cramps, diarrhea, flatulence, disturbances in electrolytes, or tolerance over long periods of usage, side effects that osmotic and stimulant laxatives often engender (however, some literature suggests that these may still occur). The drug acts by softening the feces and coats the intestine with an oily film. Hence, reduces the pain caused by certain conditions such as piles (hemorrhoids). These traits make the drug ideal for chronic childhood constipation and encopresis when large doses or long-term usage is necessary.[rx]
  • Liquid paraffin is also used in combination with magnesium as an osmotic laxative, sold under the trade name Mil-Par (among others). Additionally, it may be used as a release agent, binder, or lubricant on capsules and tablets.
  • The drug is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the North American Society for Gastroenterology and Nutrition, with the latter organization outlining it as a first choice for the management of pediatric constipation.[rx]
  • Used in Pharmaceutical industries
  • Medical formulations
  • Egg preservative
  • Hair cream
  • Incense and perfume manufacturers
  • Baby oil
  • Baby cream
  • Skin ointment
  • Used in Cosmetic industries
  • For facial creams and lotions
  • Protective coating for fruits and vegetables
  • Mosquito repellent cream

 Contraindications of Liquid Paraffin

  • Use is contraindicated in children under 3 years of age.
  • The drug is suggested to never be used in cases in which the patient is neurologically impaired or has a potential swallowing dysfunction due to potential respiration complications, though normally the airways tolerate this medicine quite well, and some go as far as saying that it should never be used with children.[rx]
  • Allergy to this medicine is not recommended for use in patients with a known allergy to liquid paraffin or any other inactive ingredients present along with it.

Dosage of Liquid Paraffin

Orally Recommended Dosage 

Adults including the elderly: 10-30ml when required.
Children over 3 years: 5-20ml when required.
Children under 3 years: not recommended.
Liquid for oral use
  • Adults, the elderly congestion of the lungs. Reporting of
    and children over 12 years: Take two to side effects: If you get any side effects, six 5ml spoonfuls (10ml to 30ml).
    talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse.

Children from 3 to 12 years

  • Take one to This includes any possible side effects, not four 5ml spoonfuls (5ml to 20ml). The listed in this label. You can also report side above doses may be taken when

Missed Dose

  • This medicine is generally used as needed. If you are on a scheduled dosing regimen of this medicine, take/use the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed one.


  • An overdose of this medicine is unlikely to cause severe symptoms. However, discontinue treatment and seek emergency medical advice in case you accidentally inhale the medicine or if you experience severe adverse effects.

Side Effects of Liquid Paraffin


  • Upon being taken orally, liquid paraffin might interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, though evidence does not seem to fully support this.[rx]
  • It can be absorbed into the intestinal wall[rx] and may cause foreign-body granulomatous reactions in some rat species. These reactions might not occur in humans, however.
  • Some evidence suggests that it engenders a lack of carcinogenicity. If liquid paraffin enters the lungs, it can cause lipoid pneumonia. If injected, it can cause granulomatous reactions.

More Common 

  • Anal seepage of paraffin with consequent anal irritation after prolonged use. The granulomatous reaction caused by the absorption of small quantities of liquid paraffin.
  • Lipoid pneumonia (by accidental inhalation) may occur, therefore caution is required in patients with swallowing difficulty.

Drug Interactions of Liquid Paraffin

The liquid paraffin may interact with following drugs, supplements & may change the efficacy of drugs

  • Reporting suspected adverse reactions –  after authorization of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme.
  • Interaction with Alcohol – Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.
  • Disease – Information not available.
  • Food interactions – Information not available.
  • Lab interactions – Information not available.


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Liquid paraffin


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