Bad reaction to coconut oil & other oils as moisturizers

topic posted Mon, February 1, 2010 - 6:09 AM by  Jennifer
After hearing/reading from many people how amazing moisturizing with oils/butters is, I tried multiple oils to try to find one that works for me (jojoba oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, vitamin E, apricot oil, & maybe others, I can't remember now) and I seem to have the same issue with all of them:

The first day or so is good, but then the backs of my hands get red, blotchy, and both the palms and the backs get extra dry, with rough patches. In the case of the most recent attempt with coconut oil, my hands were so bad last Friday that my skin was cracking and in pain (it was approx. the 3rd day of use and they went from normal to cracking over the course of one work day).

I have some thoughts as to what might be causing it, but would like some feedback/insight from those who have more experience with oils than me, because I have no idea if these make sense or not.

Some possibilities:

1. Mixing moisturizer types: I used the coconut oil at home, but I have Curel at work. I washed my hands a lot that day and so used lots of Curel. Perhaps the coconut oil and Curel combined caused a reaction?

2. Using too much coconut oil: The rest of my body (and I used the oil all over) didn't break out, just my hands. Since I use my hands to apply the oil, could they have gotten an overdose and caused a reaction? I know when I first tried out oils, I was using too much and had red blotches and dryness on other parts of my body. After I started using it more sparingly, it seemed to get better elsewhere, but I still have issues with my hands.

3. 2nd version of too much coconut oil: perhaps it's not that the oil caused the reaction itself, but maybe it worked too well and made the skin on my hands extra, extra soft. This might cause issues because I work with a lot of paper & put reports together, so if my skin was made too soft/delicate by the oil, it may have been hit extra hard by the drying/rough effects of the paper and toner I'm exposed to?

4. It was an extra cold day, so that may have exacerbated the issue, whatever it was.

Thanks for any help!

posted by:
  • Sounds like something you'd want to take to your dermatologist or maybe just a pharmacist? Since it is so localized to the hands, it probably is something to do with what you do at work. Or maybe even just washing hands to often? Could be any number of things besides the oils.
    • It does seem to be at least related to the oils because I don't get this reaction when I use my normal lotion (Curel). I keep trying oils because I'd like to switch to something natural. I haven't used the oils since Friday, have switched back to the Curel and my hands are slowly healing. But, I think you're right. Perhaps I do need to see a dermatologist about this, since I haven't been able to figure it out on my own. I keep hoping I'll tell someone about it and they'll respond, "OH, I know exactly what you're talking about! That happens all the time and the answer is THIS!" :)
      • I just noticed this:

        "...the drying/rough effects of the paper and toner I'm exposed to? "

        Toner is very toxic. Also, about the Curel - I really wonder about that - doesn't it have mineral oil? That's a petroleum product.

        I was going to suggest a calendula-infused oil, which is normally very calming to problem skin.

        I think it's something other than the vegetable oils that's giving you a problem, since the oils you mention are all normally very benign, esp the jojoba. Definitely see a dermatologist, and you may need to see more than one. I took my Mom to a derm to check something recurring on her face, and the guy wasn't helpful at all. I had to find someone else to figure out what was wrong with her.

        Also, have someone take pictures of your hands at their worst, just in case your hands clear up by the time your appointment arrives.

        Good luck!
        • RD
          offline 33
          For the last month I've been using this stuff called Best Skin Ever.

          I love love love love it! My skin can be SUPER sensitive at certain times of the month... and then the zits. Ugh. But I haven't had a single zit or sensitivity problem since I started using it.

          It is both cleanser AND moisturizer because there is no soap in it. It is just food grade essential oils mixed with jojoba. It smells heavenly. One bottle is going to last me a long time it looks like.

          I also bought the Gum Drops (essential oil tooth paste) and the hair conditioner. They are fab!

          I got it from

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