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Thread: Could benzyl alcohol be the culprit?

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Could benzyl alcohol be the culprit?

    Hi everyone, for the past few days my face (particularly the central face) has been feeling very uncomfortable with burning and redness, itching and dryness. I assumed this is seborrhoeic dermatitis since I suffer from it and because of the locations it is in (sides of nose and inner cheeks, in the crease down to my chin, eyebrows etc.), however I have had another thought;

    I have been using a cream (clotrimazole-antifungal) that the doctor gave me to try ages ago for my seb derm. I have used it before, but intermittantly and over moisturiser. This week I've been using it more often, I think, and without moisturiser.
    The first ingredient listed is Benzyl Alcohol, which a lot of sources say can be irritating. Is it possible that this ingredient could be behind the burning, itching and redness? I put some on before bed last night, and woke up at 5am with a burning central face, I had to get up and wash it off! It has set my rosacea off too, even though that is in a different area of my face where i didn't use the cream.

    I wonder if the burning would stop if i stopped using it. Which would mean not treating my seb derm...sigh. I feel like I could cry, I have just been invited out for lunch by my lovely dad, and I feel like i can't go because of the redness and discomfort.

  2. #2
    Senior Member johnabetts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Country: UK


    Unlike food and cosmetic ingredient listings, pharmaceuticals do not require their components to be listed in decreasing order of quantity.

    In the instance of Clotrimazole Cream (e.g. Canestan) the ingredient listing is:

    A white cream containing 1.0% Clotrimazole BP

    Canesten 1.0% cream also contains Benzyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Stearate, Cetyl Esters Wax, Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol, 2-Octyldodecanol and Purified Water
    I would expect a listing in decreasing order of quantity would read something like: Purified Water, Cetyl Esters Wax, 2-Octyldodecanol, Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Stearate, Polysorbate 60, Benzyl Alcohol.

    Benzyl alcohol will be present at about 1% and is very widely used in dermatologicals and cosmetics as an antimicrobial preservative. Unless you have a particular sensitivity to the material, it would be very unusual to suffer any adverse effects.

    On the other hand, adverse reactions to the active ingredient, Clotrimazole, seem to be fairly frequent.

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