A tub of ichthammol ointment
Ichthammol ointment is a versatile, yet inexpensive, product that comes in handy in any medicine cabinet. It can provide relief for many common, minor skin irritations.
Uses of Ichthammol
Ichthammol ointment has a variety of uses. The ointment itself contains a wax base, and shale, which is high in its sulphur content. Pharmacies and everyday people swear by its potency, and research has shown little to no side effects from using the topical ointment. However, those with sulphur allergies should be careful. Due to its high content, you may find yourself with a slight allergic reaction.
The ointment can be used for various skin irritations, the most common being splinters, stings, boils and minor spider bites. It is referred to as a “drawing salve,” meaning it will “draw out” the infection from the skin. And although the smell and looks of the salve may not be the most pleasant, don't let that deceive you.
Working outside or doing some indoor work? You've probably had a splinter before, and know they can be very painful, especially when they become infected. First, wash the area with soap and water, as the site of the splinter and around it should be kept clean to avoid infection, or keep it from getting worse. Apply the ointment directly onto the area with the splinter and cover with an appropriate dressing. In a day or so, you should see the splinter come to the surface, but you may need tweezers to extract it.
Like splinters, insect stings can be very painful and an annoyance. During the summer months, when people are outside more, the insect bites will occur. Ichthammol can help with the infection from these bites, but only if you are not severely allergic to bees, wasps, etc. If you are, an Epi-pen would be the best bet for you. Apply Ichthammol just as you would to a splinter. Remove the stinger if it is still there. Cover with a bandage. This should help relieve the pain and draw out the infection.
Boils are the most common skin irritation which the ointment is used to treat. Most people like using the ointment as it is much more sanitary than lancing, and works somewhat quickly to alleviate the pain. A boil is a red, puss-filled bump usually forming at the hair follicle. This could be from an ingrown hair or another type of infection. After using a hot compress or soaking in a hot tub, dry the area surrounding the boil, and apply Ichthammol. Cover with a bandage and let it sit overnight. The boil when you wake up should be relieved or have come to a head.