Talc is an inorganic compound made up of minerals, mainly magnesium and silica together with hydrogen and oxygen, finely ground into powder. Because it can absorb water, talc is used primarily as a drying and anti-scald agent. Talc is also used to absorb moisture in cosmetics and other personal care products, and can be used to prevent caking in the manufacture of pharmaceutical tablets. Learn how to use talcum powder safely so you can keep yourself and your family healthy.
Method 1 of 3: Finding Safe Ways to Use Talc
Step 1. Use it for male irritation
Talc appears to be safe for men to use for genital sweating and scalding. It has not been linked to any type of male genital cancer. Talcum powder can keep you dry if you have problems with scalding or other friction irritation.
If you are a man and you use talcum powder on your genitals, do not use it before having sex with a woman. Dust can be linked to ovarian cancer, so make sure you don't expose your partner. Wash to remove the powder before having sex or consider using an alternative product
Step 2. Use talc-based cosmetics
There is little evidence to show that negative side effects occur when using talc-based cosmetics or makeup. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the use of talc in cosmetics.
- Recent studies by the FDA have not found asbestos in talc-based cosmetic products.
- Talc can be found in face powders, eye shadows, and blushes.
Step 3. Use the powder sparingly
If you use talcum powder on your body, do so in moderation. Don't put it on your body in thick layers. Use it on products where no alternative is available, but use it with caution.
Make sure to add the talc in small doses. Don't squirt it in large amounts right away because it can get talcum spores into the air. Inhaling the talc can cause breathing difficulties
Step 4. Avoid using powder in your underwear if you are a woman
Talc has been linked to ovarian cancer in women. This risk occurs when talcum powder enters the vagina and travels to the ovaries. Research has different results, but most medical professionals recommend being careful when using talcum powder on the genitals. Long-term exposure appears to be the most important risk factor for ovarian cancer. Therefore, if you are a woman, avoid using powder in your underwear, as it will be on your skin for a long period of time.
Women should also refrain from putting powder on their sanitary napkins, diaphragms, condoms, or genitals
Step 5. Avoid inhaling the talc
Talc can cause a number of health problems when inhaled, including breathing problems. If you want to use it, try not to inhale it.
- This can be difficult because talc can be quite a fine powder. To avoid inhaling it, use small amounts.
- Avoid moving the talc container strongly. Do it gently and avoid spreading the talc in the environment and dispersing it in the air.
- Inhaling significant amounts of dust can cause a type of chemical pneumonia that is considered a medical emergency.
Step 6. Avoid spraying the powder on your baby directly
Talc can be found in many baby products. If you decide to use it on your baby, don't sprinkle it directly on it. Instead, stay away from your baby and pour the powder into your hands. Then rub it on your baby.
Make sure to brush the dust off your baby's face. The biggest concern for babies is the negative side effects due to inhalation
Step 7. Keep the talcum powder in a child-resistant container
If you have talc in your home, keep it away from your children. You can store it somewhere out of reach with the top snug. You can also consider putting it in a separate childproof container in case your kids find it.
Children can easily spill or shake the powder. This releases particles into the air that they can inhale. Keeping you safe from them can reduce your risk of exposure
Method 2 of 3: Use Alternatives to Talc
Step 1. Try cornstarch or tapioca
Corn and tapioca starch are possible alternatives to talc. They help absorb moisture and protect you against friction. Cornstarch and tapioca are available in supermarkets. Many brands even sell cornstarch-based baby powders and body powders.
- Cornstarch or tapioca starch can serve as "food" for skin bacteria and fungi, especially Candida. If you or your baby have a yeast rash, avoid using this alternative because it can make the infection worse. These rashes tend to appear in the folds between the thighs and the groin.
- If you are concerned about using talc-based makeup, you can use cornstarch-based face powders, eyeshadows, and blushes.
Step 2. Try other types of powders
If you don't want to use cornstarch, try a different type of powder. You can also use certain types of flour as an alternative to talc.
- The rice and chickpea powder absorb moisture and help you stay dry. They are good alternatives to cornstarch or talc.
- Try cornmeal or oatmeal. They also work well to absorb moisture.
- You can find these flours and powders in supermarkets. Make sure to keep them in airtight containers so they stay fresh.
Step 3. Add some powdered herbs
If you're using an alternative powder, add some powdered herbs like lavender, rose petals, and chamomile flowers. These herbs can help deodorize and soften the skin.
Make sure to grind the herbs into a fine powder. You can use a coffee or spice grinder. Before using, sift the ground herbs to separate the larger chunks
Step 4. Make your own powder
You can combine any of these alternatives and make your own powder. Additionally, you can use arrowroot powder and kaolin white clay powder instead.
- Use equal amounts of arrowroot and kaolin clay. Add 3 drops of lavender essential oil for every 4 tablespoons of arrowroot and clay mixture, and mix well.
- You can substitute any of the talcum alternatives listed for arrowroot or clay. For example, try mixing ½ cup of rice powder with ½ cup of oatmeal.
- You can substitute dried herbs for essential oil if you have a small baby or your baby has sensitive skin.
Method 3 of 3: Be aware of the risks of using talc
Step 1. Consider talc's connection to ovarian cancer
A recent study concluded that while rare, frequent use of talc around a woman's genital area may be associated with an approximately 20-30% increased risk of ovarian cancer. An opinion prepared for a civil lawsuit concluded the same.
- In general, talc use is a lower risk for ovarian cancer compared to obesity, use of hormone replacement therapy, and family history, but it appears to be real.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization, has listed talc as a possible carcinogen.
Step 2. Be aware of the risks of using baby powder
Talcum powder is found in most baby powders and may pose a risk to your baby. The main danger for children is inhaling talcum powder, which can cause problems. Children are most at risk.
- Inhaling talc can cause coughing, eye and throat irritation, shortness of breath, shallow breathing, lung failure, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and even urinary or circulatory problems. In the most severe cases, comas or fevers may occur.
- You can buy baby powder without talc, use an alternative, or use no powder at all, and instead use creams or ointments.
Step 3. Consider the connection between talc and asbestos
Decades ago, some talc products also contained asbestos, a known carcinogen. Today, products sold in the United States and many other parts of the world are not allowed to include asbestos as an ingredient and are tested to determine if asbestos is a contaminant.
- Since the 1960s, there have been concerns that talc contaminated with asbestos may be associated with cancer, especially ovarian cancer in women who used talc around the genital area.
- Recently, the FDA conducted a study to examine the raw material talc for currently marketed cosmetics, as well as some cosmetic products that contain talc for asbestos contamination. The study lasted one year, and the results found no talc products contaminated with asbestos.
- However, the FDA was only able to test 4 suppliers of talc and a number of personal care products. The results were considered informative but not definitive.