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What are the uses for mineral oil?

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Quick Answer

When applied to the skin, mineral oil treats mild irritation, soothes itchiness and prevents dryness, according to WebMD. When taken orally, mineral oil alleviates constipation.

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Mineral oil is an emollient, which means that it softens and moisturizes the skin while also decreasing flakiness, explains WebMD. It forms an oily layer on top of the skin, which prevents water from evaporating out of the skin. Patients are advised to use mineral oil only as directed on the label. Some products must be shaken before use. Mineral oil should not use used around the eyes, inside the mouth or nose, or in the groin area. Side effects of mineral oil are rare when it is used topically, but occasionally patients may experience unusual changes in the skin, such as increased wetness or sogginess.

When taken orally, mineral oil works as a laxative, lubricating the intestines and softening stool to make it easier to pass, according to WebMD. Patients should always measure mineral oil with a special measuring device rather than a kitchen spoon to ensure they get the proper dose. Mineral oil typically takes six to eight hours to produce a bowel movement. It may cause side effects, such as leakage from the anus, especially at high doses.

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