Bag Balm safe for human use?

I’ve been meaning to post this for some time now…

My 6-year old son has mild eczema on his face, particularly in winter, when his face gets chapped and windburned, leading to a rash. Our pediatrician prescribed a number of hydrocortisone-based creams that were marginally effective.

Some time ago, however, my wife started putting Bag Balm on my son’s face, and it seems to be very effective. I was concerned about the “VETERINARY USE ONLY” label, but my wife (who is a nurse, BTW) continued to use it. After all, she reasoned, it’s in all of the drug stores. Not to mention, a lot of people are using it.

Anyway, I finally looked up some info about the safety of the stuff. According the container, the active ingredients are “8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate 0.3% in a petrolatum, lanolin base.”

I looked up the active ingredient, and found the following info:

Now I’m more than a little concerned. The pure form of the active ingredient may be a carcinogen in animals and a mutagen in humans! Now, Bag Balm only contains a 0.3% concentration, but…

So my question is: Is Bag Balm safe for humans?

It’s used in a couple of products specifically intended for humans, such as this one:

from - note that the Ammens powder is reccomended for diaper rash, however.

IANAD, but I’m going to guess that an occasional application of the stuff isn’t going to hurt - as you observe, some people swear by it, even if it was originally intended for cow’s udders. The company figured this out, and started selling it for higher prices in smaller tins, too, catering to retail stores having nothing to do with farm animals. “phototoxic” … you may not want to let the kid run around outside with it on.

What the heck, one of Cecil’s old articles informs us that Absorbine Junior was originally sold as horse linament in its “senior” form. The company figured they had a good thing going when the farmers who were rubbing it on their horses started using it on themselves, too.

The ban on use of 8-OHQ must be relatively recent; back in the '90s I worked for a company that made a terrific burn ointment with this stuff. That hysterical “natural is good, chemicals are bad” site that yabob linked to is utterly without merit.

I’d check with your pediatrician. That said, I know adults who use it for their hands. I also saw it for sale at a Costco with other items for human use.

Please don’t make me cite - I’m out of town and away from my medicine cabinet but - potassium hydroxyquinoline sulfate is in several prescription skin creams for acne and rosacea.

My SO had a cyst removed from the back of his neck recently and his doctor/surgeon prescribribed bag balm to help it heal.
I looked at the label and freaked out.
But the pharmacist at the drugstore swore by it and suddenly about 5 people in the vicinity who heard my concern all said they use it regularly.
Still…when you read the label…well…it does give pause.

I remember a story on 60 MINUTES–it must have been twenty years ago–about Bag Balm. The story opined that it was used on more humans than cows.

I myself have used it to clear up an assortment of skin complaints, with no ill effects.


PS–I am not a cow.

I’ve used BB for yonks, especially in Wyoming winters. It is wonderful for chapped and irritated skin.

Ask your pediatrician of course, but it should be fine. Farmers and country folk have been using it on themselves since it came out (from personal experience and knowledge anyway).

I use BB semi-regularly on my feet and on the scaly dry patches on both elbows.

FWIW, I’ve been using the stuff for years with no ill effects :slight_smile:

Me and the old missus used it on the babies for diaper rash

While the plural of anecdote is not data, many cyclists on vigorous multi-day rides apply Bag Balm. It is the most effective cure for chafing found, and most everyone swears by it.

I’d not be overly concerned about the effects of Bag Balm, unless you’ve already cut out all the NutraSweet and Red Dye #3 out of your diet.

Let’s put it this way, on my bike rides, I’m more worried about poorly-driven Lincoln Navigators than a mutagenic schmear on my bottom.

  • Bjorn240

The SuperWife™ and I use this regularly. We buy it in the cosmetic section at the drugstore, so we’ve never worried about the human use aspect. She uses it for dry feet and hands, and we both use it on more delicate parts for long runs and rides. Last year at Ride the Rockies, there was even a group that had gotten the manufacturers to provide green jerseys with “Team Bag Balm” logos on them. Those ruled.

That rocks! BB got me through the last 4 days of a seven day ride when I could hardly sit on the saddle by the end of the third day.

Hence the name, “Bag” Balm.

see this link for the actual ingredient listed in Bag Balm:

there does not appear to be anything clearly evident about toxicity, according to this site.

I personally think Bag Balm is safe, I’ve used it often. But if you’re still concerned, Badger Balm is just as effective, and entirely safe. Smells better too.

It was amazing for this, I even passed a tin off to two new mommies, both of which had new sons with deadly diaper rash - cleared it up almost overnight, same as my experience.

Wouldn’t Udder Cream also work then?

Just saw this thread on the front page…and was amused to see that the question was one that I asked over 8 years ago.

Anyway, I’ll add that my wife actually consulted with two different dermatologists, as well as my son’s pediatrician, and they all told her it was fine to use.

Also, my son is 14 years old now, and hasn’t shown any ill effects to date.

His kid is now 14:eek: