Cetylstearyl alcohol

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Cetearyl alcohol; cetostearylic alcohol; INCI designation: Cetearyl Alcohol; Lanette O; Tallow alcohol

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White to pale yellow, waxy mass of approximately equal parts cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, which was formerly obtained from sperm oil (sperm oil) and is also known as lanette O Cetyl stearyl alcohol serves as an emulsifier for O/W emulsions.

General information
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  • Relatively widespread use as an ointment base in medical (e.g. in Unguentum emulsificans aquosum) and cosmetic topicals. Of clinical relevance are especially extremities for the treatment of chronic eczema of the lower extremities. Furthermore, they are found in other extremities, e.g. light protection products.
  • Cetylstearyl alcohol can also be found in water-miscible cooling lubricants. Contact allergies against cetylstearyl alcohol have also been described after the application of cetylstearyl alcohol containing cosmetics and medical exteriors, whereas the combined application of different exteriors containing this emulsifier may lead to an increase of the risk regarding a corresponding allergy.
  • Sensitizations occur rather rarely but are significantly more frequent in elderly patients or patients with chronic venous insufficiency or stasis dermatitis.
  • Occupational exposure to wool wax alcohols and cetylstearyl alcohol in activities that are regularly accompanied by occupational contact with various external agents (e.g. in outpatient care and with masseurs) corresponds to general occupational dermatological knowledge. In most cases, direct skin contact can be avoided by applying appropriate personal protective measures and/or testing of substitutes.

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  1. Skudlik C, John SM, Becker D, Dickel H, Geier J, Leesmann H, Mahler V, Rogosky E, Wagner E, Weisshaar E, Diepgen TL, for the working group "Evaluation of allergens at BK 5101" of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Berufs- und Umweltdermatologie in der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft (2008) Justification for the assessment of the impact of allergies against wool wax alcohols and cetylstearyl alcohol within the scope of the MdE-evaluation. Assessing the effects of delayed allergies to wool wax alcohols and cetostearylic alcohols with reference to the reduction in earning capacity]. Dermatol Occupation Environment 56: 66-69


Last updated on: 29.10.2020