The skin tolerance of shea fat when used as excipient in topical products has been investigated. Skin irritation or sensitivity testing was carried out in a preliminary skin patch-application pilot study of graded extemporaneous formulations of the indigenous shea fat base with 25 volunteers. A field study by interview was also conducted among 500 users and traders of shea fat-based products, drawn from major city commercial centers across six middle belt and southern states of Nigeria in a bid to determine any side effects known to users that shea fat-based products had ever produced. The objective of this survey was to pool and analyze information on any subliminal or incidental skin irritation or sensitivity to the products gathered from both long-term and recent users of the products. High concentrations (45%, 75%) of Nigerian shea fat in preparations employed in the pilot study were neither irritant nor sensitizing to skin of all volunteers tested. Similarly, the survey revealed that the fat is harmless on skin in topical products. Up to 12 years' continued use of these products had been unconnected with any adverse skin effect. Indigenous shea fat is therefore recommended as well tolerated and suitable for use in topical products.
Keywords: Shea fat, ointment base, natural product, raw material, skin tolerance commercial products survey.
[Nig. J. Nat. Prod. And Med. Vol.6 2002: 26-30]