Ichthammol Ointment

Ichthammol Ointment, Photo Illustration

Ichthammol ointment has a number of uses as a natural cure for a variety of minor skin injuries and conditions. For many, ichthammol ointment is a staple in their arsenal of natural remedies.

Purchasing Options

Finding this ointment should not be a problem, since there is no prescription necessary. It is widely available from a variety of souces.

For those who prefer to shop online, check out the following sites:

  • Penn Herb Company has ichthammol-based ointment for around $6. The product is 20 percent ichthammol, has few additivies and comes in a 30-gram tube.
  • Web Vitamins features Dr. Christopher's Black Drawing Ointment for around $13 for a two-ounce size. The salve contains numerous other herbs including comfrey, red clover, plaintain and chickweed.
  • Vitamin Life has Allen Pharmaceutical ichthammol ointment for under $9. The product is sold in 30-gram tubes and contains 20 perecnt ichthammol.

Your local pharmacy may also carry a selection of drawing salves in the first aid section as well.

What Is Ichthammol Ointment?

Also known as black drawing salve, ichthammol ointment is made from sulfuric shale mixed with a carrier such as paraffin or beeswax. Sometimes, the ointment also contains other natural ingredients such as arnica, vitamin E or comfrey, which can further aid in healing.

The ointment itself is black, which is why it is referred to as black drawing salve. It has a pungent, sulfuric odor that comes from the shale. A recent paper published by the European Medicines Agency reports that it is safe to use on animals intended for food consumption. Drugs online medical information resource reports no known side effects, although infrequently, people report skin irritation as a side effect of using ichthammol salve.

The ointment is available in various strengths that indicate the different levels of ichthammol in the carrier. Common strengths are 10 percent and 20 percent over the counter. Some compounding pharmacists will mix up higher strengths if recommended by your health-care provider.

Common Uses for Ichthammol Ointment

Proponents of this herbal remedy believe that ichthammol ointment "draws out" infections of the skin. According to Prescription Drug Info, ichthammol provides antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal action. There are a variety of suggested uses for this remedy:

  • Treating insect bites and stings from mosquitoes, spiders and bees
  • Treatment of boils
  • Removing splinters and slivers
  • Treating plant irritations, such as nettles or poison ivy
  • Treating minor skin infections such as an ingrown toenails
  • Treating minor skin irritation in pets

How to Use the Ointment

To use black drawing salve, clean the area thoroughly. Apply a thin layer of the salve, and cover it with a bandage. Re-clean the area daily and apply the drawing salve. If the infection or condition persists or if you notice a red streak running from the infection in the direction of your heart, seek immediate medical attention because this could be indicative of a severe infection.

Cautions and Side Effects

Keep the following cautions in mind as you use this ointment:

  • Ichthammol ointment is for topical use only. Do not take it internally.
  • It is always best to check with your health care provider before self-prescribing any home remedy.
  • Do not use ichthammol ointment if you have an allergy to any of the ingredients.
  • Use may result in incomplete removal of infection or foreign bodies.
  • There is the potential for scarring and/or burning of the skin with use of black drawing salve.
  • Avoid contact of ichthammol salve with mucous membranes, such as the eyes.

Ever Popular Remedy

Black drawing salve, or ichthammol ointment, is a widely used and popular remedy for a number of conditions. When used properly to treat minor skin infections and irritations, it may become one of your favorite remedies in your natural health care kit.

Ichthammol Ointment