The cons with coconut
Like many other botanicals, however, coconut oil is not without some downsides. Specifically, there are a number of coconut-derived compounds present in cosmetics, some of which are not infrequent causes of allergic contact dermatitis. Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) is a widely used surfactant that debuted in 1976 as the “No More Tears” ingredient in children’s shampoos [Jacob 2008]. However, it has the dubious distinction of being the North American Contact Dermatitis Group’s allergen of the year for 2004, and is thought to have a contact sensitization prevalence is estimated at between 3.0 and 7.2%.13
CHECK OUT: Honey's use in skin therapy
Counseling for patients with known allergy to CAPB can be challenging because the cross-reactivity of CAPB with other coconut-derived surfactants and coconut oil itself is largely unknown. One randomized study of 12 patients with known CAPB allergy and 10 control patients examined 11 coconut-derived surfactants, as well as coconut oil cross-reactivity. Remarkably, not a single patient in the study reacted to coconut oil, and only three of the 12 patients with previous reactions to CAPB reacted on retesting. All of these reactions were doubtful. This study suggested that reactions to CAPB may represent irritant dermatitis as opposed to true allergic reactions, and that the risk of reacting to coconut oil itself is likely very low.14
Coconut oil has already proven itself useful and important in dermatology with a long history of use dating back to ancient times, to widespread use as a raw material for cosmetic derivatives. With powerful emollient properties and exciting antibacterial effects, this natural oil will likely continue to captivate researchers and clinicians alike. Coconut oil may serve us in as yet unimagined ways.
YOU MIGHT LIKE: Indigeo Naturalis
Finally, despite the insistence of the famous song by Harry Nilsson, it is most certainly not recommended that one “put the lime in the coconut” before applying it to the skin; such recklessness could very likely result in a severe case of phytophotodermatitis!