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Paraffin emulsion

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Liquid paraffin is the classical faecal softener. The CSM has recommended that liquid paraffin containing preparations should no longer be directly available to the public and the following restrictions should be placed on over the counter sales:

  • pack size limited to 160 ml
  • be indicated only for the symptomatic relief of constipation
  • contraindicated for those under 3 years of age
  • prolonged use not advised and package labels to read "repeated use is not recommended"....."consult your doctor if laxatives are needed every day, if you have persistent abdominal pain or have a condition which makes swallowing difficult".

Side-effects of paraffin include:

  • anal irritation secondary to anal leakage of paraffin
  • granulomatous reactions due to absorption of paraffin; this generally occurs with the emulsion
  • effect on the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K
  • lipoid pnuemonia

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