Panthenol spray is a foam or water-based version of panothenic acid most commonly used as a topical moisturizer or as a mild first aid treatment. It is usually best known for its moisturizing properties. One of the biggest chemical attributes of panthenol is its ability to bind closely to water molecules and effectively “seal in” moisture, and because of this, people often spray it on their hair or skin as something of a leave-in conditioner or spray-based lotion. This same quality also makes it popular as a wound closer, and some researchers have speculated that it can help small scrapes and cuts heal faster. It is sometimes also marketed as a means of treating sunburn, insect bites, and other minor skin irritations. The value of this spray as a medical treatment has not been widely established, and there is some debate in the healthcare community with respect to whether it should be used or recommended for anything more than simple cosmetic use.
Panthenol is a common cosmetics ingredient derived from pantothenic acid, more frequently known outside of scientific circles as Vitamin B5. It carries the molecular formula C9H19NO4, and typically appears as a thick, colorless liquid. It is commonly added to things like shampoos and lotions in order to boost their moisturizing capabilities.
Making the compound into a spray is usually fairly straightforward, and usually involves watering it down or otherwise thinning it out so that it will disperse evenly as a mist or fine spray. Sometimes it’s pressurized into an aerosol can, but more often it’s simply used in a pump-style spray bottle. Concentrations of active ingredient can and do vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but in most cases sprays are mostly water or other ingredients. It’s not uncommon to find mixtures that have as little as 1% or 2% panthenol. On the other hand, some preparations have as much as 50%; this is just one of the many reasons why people need to be mindful about reading the product labels carefully. Panthenol products aren’t usually prescription drugs, which means that they’re more readily available but also means that they’re not as closely regulated. There’s more room for variety, and the quality can shift between brands.
One of the most common uses for the spray is as a topical moisturizer, and in most cases it is easily and quickly absorbed into the skin. Some studies show that panthenol in its pure forms is also capable of plumping up the skin, which may help smooth out wrinkles and fine lines in addition to providing moisture. Topical sprays are often used for this purpose, though the quality of the end result will necessarily depend on the concentration. Panthenol is also commonly used as a moisturizing ingredient in sunblock sprays, spray-on conditioners and hairspray. In these cases it’s usually just one of several ingredients, however.
First Aid Applications
Though medical studies are inconclusive, panthenol spray is used in various parts of the world to help heal minor skin wounds. Some argue that using pantothenic acid topically can help speed the healing of wounds. Tests in animal research have tentatively shown this to be the case, but testing in humans hasn't been as conclusive. Certain anti-bacterial properties of panthenol may help the body recover more quickly, which can be beneficial even if it doesn’t directly impact wound closure time.
People sometimes also use the spray to treat skin irritations, including many topical allergic reactions. Some users claim the Vitamin B5 product helps ease the symptoms associated with poison oak and poison ivy. Some research indicates that panthenol may have anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective at soothing rashes and bites, but a lot of this depends on personal body chemistry and the intensity of the irritation.
Sprays can also be used to treat sunburn. The internal ingestion of Vitamin B5 has shown to be effective at healing sunburn generally, but the topical application hasn't been well tested. Sprays that also contain aloe and other soothing ingredients are often more immediately effective. Pantothenic acid has shown to be vital to the metabolic process, however, and this, together with its anti-bacterial properties, may help skin repair itself while helping to prevent bacterial growth or infection.
Risks and Common Precautions
Most sprays containing pathenol are considered generally safe, but this doesn’t mean that they’re a good idea for all people or for all uses. Allergic reactions, while rare, are possible, and the varying concentration levels mean that results may not be consistent. Most medical experts also discourage the use of this or any other over-the-counter product as a first-line treatment for any condition, particularly conditions that have been diagnosed as serious. Using it on wounds is usually safe in the short-term, but anyone who notices a cut getting worse should usually stop treatments and get evaluated by a qualified healthcare expert.