What is Allantoin?

Daniel Judd BSc MBiol
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What is Allantoin?

Allantoin is a naturally occurring chemical used as the active ingredient in products like skin creams and moisturisers due to its moisturising and skin softening effects. These effects make it a good ingredient to throw into other products like lipsticks or sun screens to make them double as a moisturiser. Allantoin is also used in creams for wound care as it can speed up the healing of damaged skin.

Allantoin is found in several places in nature, including the urine of most mammals. Thankfully there are other sources too, the most common one being a plant called Comfrey. It’s also possible to make it synthetically in a lab.

 

How does it work?

As a moisturiser, allantoin works as something called a humectant. Humectants are very good and grabbing and holding on to water so applying it to your skin will increase moisture levels, reducing dry and scaly skin.

Allantoin doubles up in skin softening ability as it also has an effect on the cells in your skin, causing the rough, outermost layers of dead skin cells to fall off and be replaced by a newer, softer layer.

Allantoin is also thought to promote cell growth and reduce inflammation which is what lets it help in wound healing. This same anti-inflammation effect lets it work as an anti-irritant in combination with ingredients that are usually irritating to the skin. This is seen in products that use ingredients like aluminium salts which usually have a wide range of irritating side effects.

 

Safety

What are the side effects?

Part of allantoin’s popularity comes from how well tolerated it is by most people’s skin. For most people, it’s an anti-irritant so it can even prevent irritation caused by other ingredients. It is still possible however for allantoin to cause an allergic reaction.

Interactions with other medicines:

Allantoin is not known to interact with other medicines.

 

Other names for allantoin

5-Ureidohydantoin; (2,5-Dioxo-4-imidazolidinyl)urea; Allantol; Cordianine; Glyoxyldiureid; Glyoxyldiureide; Glyoxylic Diureide; NSC 7606; Psoralon; Sebical; Septalan

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