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What Is Papaya Ointment?

By A.M. Boyle
Updated May 21, 2024
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Papaya ointment is a topical gel made from the fruit of the papaya tree. It is used for medicinal purposes. In both natural and processed forms, many sing the praises of salve made from papaya fruit for its powerful antiseptic properties.

The carica papaya tree is a fruit tree that grows primarily in tropical climates. The plant originated from the areas of South America and Southern Mexico, but it now grows in many warmer climates throughout the world. Papaya fruit, often referred to as pawpaw, can grow as large as a football. This very nutritious tropical treat has a greenish-yellow skin, reddish-orange flesh, and a multitude of small, black seeds. If eaten before it is mature, the fruit has a bitter taste, but when fully ripe, it has a mildly sweet flavor that many describe as a cross between a guava and a cantaloupe.

For many years, people have sought after the papaya not only for its delicious flavor but also because of its health benefits. The pawpaw is loaded with fiber and vitamins such as A, C, and E and is believed to have healing qualities as well. Aside from ingesting the papaya, people have found that, when applied topically on the skin, it helps alleviate many troublesome conditions. Thus, papaya ointment was developed to treat a number of skin conditions.

People use papaya ointment to help sterilize and heal rashes, burns, and open cuts. It is also popular for treating dry skin, eczema, and other skin irritations. Some individuals find that it works to reduce skin blemishes, pimples, and acne. Basically, it can be used on any skin condition for which a person might otherwise apply another type of commercial antibiotic. It is also available as a lip balm to treat cracked, chapped, or peeling lips.

To make papaya ointment, manufacturers ferment the fruit of the pawpaw and typically combine it with other stabilizing ingredients, such as petroleum jelly and preservatives. The thick, pale-yellow gel that is produced has a vague, sour odor. Some manufacturers combine the papaya ointment with other ingredients to enhance its skin-softening and healing properties and mask the unpleasant smell. For instance, coconut oil, aloe, or honey might be combined with pawpaw extract to create a product that encompasses the benefits of each while having a pleasant fragrance.

Some individuals prefer a purer form of papaya ointment, and some retailers sell all-natural products containing no added preservatives or other ingredients. For those seeking the purest approach, the moist underside of the peel from a raw papaya actually contains a sticky substance that many claim has all the benefits of manufactured lotions. If a person is lucky enough to have regular access to pawpaw fruit, he or she can take advantage of the healing benefits by rubbing the peel directly onto the problem skin areas.

As a caveat, some people might have a sensitivity to papaya or the ingredients used in the manufacture of papaya ointment. In that event, using the salve could actually cause additional, more serious skin irritation. Further, there is some evidence that papaya, especially when not completely ripened, could affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant. Consequently, individuals who are trying to become pregnant are advised against using papaya ointment.

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Discussion Comments

By turquoise — On Nov 22, 2013

Pawpaw ointment is great stuff. It's effective for so many different skin issues.

I've been using it on my little one's diaper rash with great results. I've also used it for allergic dermatitis, mild burns and dry skin in general. I even use it on my lips sometimes.

I bought a bunch of stuff for my younger brother before he went away to college. I bought a tub of pawpaw ointment as well. He told me on the phone that he has been using it on his pimples as a spot treatment. I just love this ointment.

By bear78 — On Nov 22, 2013

@SarahGen-- I'm not a doctor so I can't give you an accurate answer. You really need to ask your doctor about this.

Papaya ointment is great for eczema. My sister swears by it. It's one of the few things that have helped her. But there is an enzyme in raw papaya that causes uterine contractions in pregnant women. I know that eating raw papaya can cause early delivery or miscarriage. So pregnant women are told to stay away from all papaya products.

By SarahGen — On Nov 21, 2013

I didn't know that papaya ointment is not safe for those trying to get pregnant. What about pregnant women?

I'm pregnant and I'm suffering from eczema. A friend recommended papaya ointment. Can I use it or not?

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