In the recent months when it emerged that a woman in America developed cancer from using a baby powder, it caused quite a concern among mothers who use the powder on their children. Some either chose to switch over to a different brand, while some stuck to the brand while bearing a few precautions.
Having said so, no connection between baby talcum powder and certain types of cancers has been well-established yet. However, a lot of mothers wonder if it is safe to use baby powder either on their babies or themselves.
Here are a few things that you need to know about baby talcum powder:
1. What is baby powder composed of?
Baby talcum powder is prepared from talc – a kind of mineral composed of asbestos (asbestos is made up of silicon and oxygen and other elements such as magnesium). At times baby powder might also be made up of corn starch.
2. Why does one use baby talcum powder:
People use baby talcum powder to keep baby’s skin dry, especially around the diaper regions. Some women use it on facial area of their babies to make them look fairer. Women also use baby powder for themselves. Quite a few apply them on their genital areas which seem to have reportedly led to cancer in the reproductive tract in these women. There have been reports of talc found in ovarian tumors in a few women who apply baby powder on their genital areas on a daily basis.
3. Can baby talcum powders cause cancer?
While the link between the cancers and the application of powder has been established, the Journal of the National Cancer Institue has found an association between invasive ovarian cancer and the application of talcum powder. It appears that the powder might travel up through the vagina especially if you apply a lot of it on a daily basis.
Talcum powder has been classified as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ or cancer-causing in humans by The International Agency for Research on Cancer. However, we need to remember that there are two types of talcum powders – with and without asbestos. The United States has stopped making talcum powder containing asbestos since the 1970s. Talc that has asbestos is more likely to cause cancer either through inhalation or application on the genital areas. Whether asbestos-free talcum causes cancer is still not established.
4. Do babies need talcum powder in the first place?
No. Your baby’s diaper area can be washed and patted dry without the application of a talcum powder. Should a diaper rash arise, one can always use ointments or creams that use natural or herbal ingredients to treat the rash. You can avoid these rashes by changing the diapers frequently and helping air circulation.
5. Is it safe to use talcum powder to prevent heat rash?
While some doctors believe that talcum powder can prevent heat rash, some doctors believe that they can clog skin pores. Your baby might still develop a rash as a result of this. Consult a pediatrician if you see any signs of a rash.
6. How to use baby talcum powder?
Talcum powder contains tiny particles which on inhalation can enter the lungs and cause breathing problems. So make sure you don’t use a puff to apply powder. Instead take the powder in your hands first away from your baby, then pat it on your baby. Ensure that you don’t sprinkle the talc directly on your baby. A few particles might not harm your baby, but breathing in a lot of talc is sure to clog the air sacs in the lungs causing breathing difficulties. Inhalation of talc being fatal is a rare case. Instances of babies losing their lives had happened only when the baby was covered in talc after playing with a talcum container. If your baby is covered with talc, take him to the hospital at once.
Always keep talcum powder out your children’s reach.
Don’t use talcum powder to lighten your baby’s complexion.
Don’t use a puff to apply powder. It will disperse the particles, and your baby is sure to inhale most of it. Apply powder on your hands first and then on your baby.
Not only asbestos-based powders but also corn starch powders too can create problems in babies through inhalation. Moreover, cornstarch particles are bigger than asbestos-based powder particles. Just make sure that you don’t make clouds of powder in the air.