My baby's mother is putting Tiger Balm on the soft spot of the baby's head. I'm concerned that the chemicals will be absorbed and affect brain development. Is this a valid concern?

closed as off-topic by Acire Jun 2 '15 at 11:44

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    Based on quick online searching, Tiger Balm shouldn't be used on infants. What is she attempting to accomplish or treat? If she believes that it's important to use Tiger Balm, talk to your pediatrician about potential side effects. – Acire Jun 2 '15 at 1:45

Yes, it is a valid concern.

There is no reason to put camphor oil on any infant. There is no clinical benefit, and there is a risk of respiratory damage, seizures, liver damage and even death. Every camphor-containing over-the-counter preparation is clearly labeled with instructions to avoid use in children under two years of age.

Because of the danger of camphor oil in children, the government limits it to 11% in any preparation, and most cough remedies (e.g. Vick's vapo-rub) have significantly less that this. Tiger Balm, however, has the full 11%, making it particularly inappropriate for use in children under two.

In an infant, absorption through the skin can be substantial. Since camphor is metabolized by the liver, even small amounts of camphor can produce significant toxicity because the liver of an infant is too immature to metabolize it.

In 2000, a case report was published of liver toxicity in a 2 month old infant with only dermal exposure. Neurotoxicity (nerveous system damage) has been observed after exposure to camphor through the skin.

Please have your baby's mother stop applying the oil immediately and have the infant seen by her doctor.

Camphor Hepatotoxicity

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