African Oils in Dermatology. Dermatologic Therapy.
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Plant and seed oils have been used for centuries and possibly millennia in Nigeria and Africa for the maintenance of healthy skin and the traditional treatment of skin disorders. In recent times, some of these oils have regained popularity due to their availability and affordability coupled with concerns about the side effects of commercially processed skin care products. This is to assess the chemical properties, current knowledge, source of procurement, indications for topical use, benefits, and possible adverse effects of six plant oils and one animal fat commonly used in Nigeria. This is a literature review and interview with traditional healers and alternative health practitioners to document the traditional, medical, cosmetics, and other usage of oils for skin and scalp care in the African context. Literature review was done on the biochemical and pharmacological properties of each of the seven oils. Searches were made from PubMed, African Journal online, Medline, and Google scholar. Medical subject heading terms used in the search include shea butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm oil, soy oil, Baobab oil, and python oil. Plant and seed oils used locally in Nigeria and other African countries for skin care and treatment have several benefits due to the constituents of the plant oils (free fatty acids, triglycerides, ceramides, phospholipids, vitamins and antioxidants) which have been shown to promote healthy skin barrier function, wound healing and have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. They are however not without adverse effects, which may be mainly due to processing and storage hygiene. Further studies are required on these oils in view of their potential in the development of novel skincare products and dermatological therapies.
African oils, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, plants and seed oils, skin care, snake oil
Ayanlowo O, Cole-Adeife O, Ilomuanya M, Ebie C, Adegbulu A, Ezeanyache O, Odiase O, Ikebudu V, Akanbi B. (2021) African Oils in Dermatology. Dermatologic Therapy. 30:e14968. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/dth.14968 PMID: 33928725.