High Levels of Aluminum in Antiperspirants: A Potential Hazard for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women.
Aluminum salts are widely used in antiperspirants because they chemically and/or physically block sweat secretion. It is well known that excessive aluminum exposure is potentially toxic and could result in anemia, bone disease and dementia, but most antiperspirants containing aluminum are thought to be relatively safe, at least in non-pregnant women. However, at least one case report now suggests that continuous exposure to large dosages of antiperspirants with percentages of aluminum salts ≥20% could cause bone damage and extreme fatigue associated with hyperaluminemia (elevated aluminum levels) in the user. While some manufacturers suggest that the usage of such antiperspirants is safe for pregnant women, the pregnancy risk classification for the most common active ingredients in antiperspirants, aluminum chloride hexahydrate and aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex, were set at category C. This rating indicates that the substance could cause potential damage to the fetus, and that pregnant women should avoid the substance if possible. Studies have shown that about 3.6 µg of aluminum as contained in antiperspirants, is absorbed percutaneously through human female skin per application of 0.230 g of 21% aluminum chlorohydrate. In addition, other studies have shown that this uptake is much less than the accumulation of aluminum resulting from dietary exposure. This evidence indicates that transdermal uptake of aluminum containing salts does occur to a low to moderate degree, and that women who are pregnant or nursing should probably avoid the frequent and long-term use of antiperspirants with high levels of aluminum. However, short-term use of these products is presumably safe.
The use of aluminum-containing antiperspirants in breastfeeding mothers is of minimal risk. In one rabbit study, only 2% of a dose administered entered the milk compartment and even less than this was orally absorbed by the offspring.  Since the absorption of aluminum salts orally is virtually nil, the use of antiperspirants with high aluminum levels is probably not a risk for the infant of a breastfeeding mother. However, the same study did report decreased milk production in rabbits exposed to high doses of aluminum. Thus, women who wish to preserve their milk supply may want to avoid products, such as antiperspirants with high concentrations of aluminum, which could increase their aluminum intake.
Below are listed various antiperspirants with their aluminum content.
Antiperspirants with Large Amounts of Aluminum:
- 5 Day® Antiperspirant Pads (25%)
- Mitchum® Power Gel (25%)
- Certain Dri® Solid (25%)
- ODABAN® Spray(20%)
- Drysol® and Xerac AC® Solid (20%)
- Mitchum® Solid (20%)
- Secret® Clinical Strength Solid (20%)
- Gillete® Clinical Strength Solid (20%)
- Anhydrol Forte® Roll-on (20%)
Antiperspirants with Moderate Amounts of Aluminum:
- Secret® Regular Strength Invisible Solid (19%)
- Ban Invisible solid (19%)
- Suave 24 Hour Protection Solid (18.2%)
- Degree® invisible Solid (17.8%)
- Sure® Original Solid (16%)
- Lady Speed Stick® Solid 24/7 (15.4%)
- Dove® Invisible Solid (14.8%)
- Soft and Dri Clear Glide Invisible Solid (13%)
- Certain Dri® Roll-on (12%)
Aluminum-Free Antiperspirant Brands:
- Tom’s of Maine®
- Jason’s Natural®
- Desert Essence®
- Food and Drug Administration. Department of Health and Human Services. Antiperspirant drug products for over-the-counter human use; final monograph. Federal Register 2003;68:34273–93.
- Eisenach JH, Atkinson JLD, Fealey RD. Hyperhidrosis: evolving therapies for a well-established phenomenon. Mayo Clin Proc. 2005; 80:657-66.
- Guillard O, Fauconneau B, Olichon D, Dedieu G, Deloncle R. Hyperaluminemia in a woman using analuminum-containing antiperspirant for 4 years. Am JMed 2004; 117: 956_ 59.
- Sannerstedt R, Lundborg P, Danielsson BR, et al. (February 1996). "Drugs during pregnancy: an issue of risk classification and information to prescribers". Drug Saf 14 (2): 69–77.
- Flarend, R., T. Bin, D. Elmore & S. L. Hem: A preliminary study of dermal absorption of aluminum from antiperspirants using aluminum-26. Fd. Chem. Toxicol. 2001, in press.
- Anane, R. et al., ‘‘Bioaccumulation of Water Soluble Aluminum Chloride in the Hippocampus after Transdermal Uptake in Mice,’’ Archives of Toxicology, 69:568–571, 1995.
- Yokel, R. A. Toxicity of aluminum exposure during lactation to the maternal and suckling rabbit. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 75:35-43 (1984).