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Panthénol dangers

Are there any risks associated with the use of panthenol in cosmetics?

Also known as dexpanthenol and provitamin B5, panthenol is an active ingredient increasingly used in skin and hair care. It has numerous benefits, but are there any risks to be aware of before using it topically or on the hair? Find out here.

Published June 3, 2024, updated on June 3, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

Are there any contraindications to be aware of regarding the application of panthenol?

Found under the INCI name "Panthenol" in cosmetic care, the panthenol is an active ingredient frequently used in formulation. It is one of the precursors of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), a major constituent of coenzyme A, which plays a key role in the cell and tissue repair mechanism. The panthenol is highly valued for its moisturizing, soothing, and healing virtues, and is often considered the ally of sensitive skin. Suitable for pregnant women, it is capable of reducing skin irritations, tingling sensations, and redness.

Panthenol is an active ingredient that is generally very well tolerated.

However, the literature does echo a few rare cases of allergy. A review recently compiled all the patch tests that were conducted between 2009 and 2017 at the Department of Dermatology of the University Hospital of Coimbra and described certain reactions to formulations containing 5% panthenol. Indeed, while the concentration of this active ingredient is not subject to a restriction by the regulation 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and the Council, it is generally found at rates between 0.5 and 5% in skincare products. That's why the majority of tolerance tests conducted with this ingredient are done with a concentration of 5%. Among the 2171 patients tested, 26 (1.2%) reacted to dexpanthenol. It should be noted that most of these were individuals with sensitive skin and suffering from chronic eczema (88.5%, n = 23).

Furthermore, the Expert Group on Cosmetic Ingredient Safety has recently concluded that panthenol used in cosmetics is safe and has excellent skin tolerance. For the vast majority of people, it is neither irritating nor sensitizing, as demonstrated by the results of the patch tests below.

Number of ParticipantsPatch-Test ConditionsResults
23Application of a 5% Panthenol HydrogelNegative tests for patients with dermatosis and healthy subjects.
100Application and occlusion for several hours of a 5% panthenol creamNegative Tests
113Application and 24-hour occlusion of a 5% panthenol creamMild erythema for one patient, negative tests for the others
106Application and 24-hour occlusion of a 5% panthenol creamMild erythema for one patient, negative tests for the others
99Application and 24-hour occlusion of a cream containing 6% panthenolNegative Tests

What precautions should be taken before using panthenol?

Even though panthenol is generally a well-tolerated active ingredient, there is no such thing as zero risk, and some individuals may be allergic to it, developing mild redness, irritation, or swelling upon contact. To prevent these discomforts, it is recommended to perform a tolerance test the first time you use a product containing it. This test is very simple: take a small amount of the product to be tested and apply it to the inside of your elbow, on your wrist, or behind your ear. Wait for 24 hours and, if you observe no skin reaction, it means your skin tolerates this active ingredient well.


  • Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and the Council.

  • GONÇALO M. & al. Allergic contact dermatitis caused by dexpanthenol - Likely a common allergen. Contact Dermatitis (2018).

  • HELDRETH B. & al. Safety Evaluation of Panthenol, Pantothenic Acid, and Derivatives in Cosmetic Applications. International Journal of Toxicology (2022).


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