MEDILOGIN | Medical Academy

Wirkung der Heilwolle

Can sheep’s wool heal?

Healing wool is untreated, natural sheep’s wool. This contains wool wax, which is also called lanolin. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can absorb many times its volume of water thanks to the wool wax alcohols it contains.


Healing wool has long been known for its beneficial and healing effects. Ancient people already knew about these properties and made use of them. This is what the Greek physician Dioscorides referred to in his writings as ‘Oesypus’, known to us as lanolin or wool wax.

He praised the medicinal properties of this substance. However, in the centuries that followed, knowledge of the healing power of this natural product was largely forgotten. In 1885, the German pharmacologist Oskar Liebreich rediscovered the special uses of wool for healing purposes.

Evidence based medicine

Although there is limited evidence, wool clothing has traditionally been considered an irritant for individuals with atopic dermatitis and was therefore historically not recommended in patients with this condition.

However, wool fibers actually have beneficial thermodynamic and moisture transporting properties (1).

Application of the healing wool for newborns

Sheep’s wool has been used for centuries for diaper dermatitis. It facilitates a microcirculation of air in the diaper by putting layers of wool between the skin and the diaper. The wool prevents direct contact of urine and stool with the skin. As a result, the skin is not permanently moist and there is less irritation from urine and stool (2).

Furthermore, sheep’s wool contains lanolin, a substance that has a positive effect on the recovery of the skin.

What healing properties does lanolin have?

Lanolin is a yellow fat obtained from sheep’s wool (3). Over the years, it has been used topically to treat sore nipples due to breastfeeding. Lanolin can be purified by removing pesticide and detergent residues. This leads to an improvement in safety and reduces the allergenic potential (4).

This yellow fat mainly consists of fatty acids and fatty alcohols. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well as the ability to absorb many times its own volume in water, thanks to the wool wax alcohols it contains. Wool wax has skin-caring, softening, emulsifying, lipid-replenishing, water-repelling, and skin-protecting properties, thus promoting skin repair. For these reasons, it is an excellent substance for the care of sore nipples and lips.

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  1. Su JC, Dailey R, Zallmann M, Leins E, Taresch L, Donath S, Heah SS, Lowe AJ. Determining Effects of Superfine Sheep wool in INfantile Eczema (DESSINE): a randomized paediatric crossover study. Br J Dermatol. 2017 Jul;177(1):125-133
  3. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) 2018
  4. Mohammadzadeh A, Farhat A, Esmaeily H. The effect of breast milk and lanolin on sore nipples. Saudi Med J. 2005;26:1231-4