Can You Eat Baby Powder?

Can You Eat Baby Powder

Baby powder is an essential powder used to prevent rashes on babies. As a result, the powder can be in the form of a spray or as cosmetics as well. A baby can get the rashes, especially on their buttocks, through diapers. However, doctors have always warned people to be careful when applying this powder for babies, as inhaling the powder may cause aspiration pneumonia or granuloma.

The question is: can you eat baby powder?

Baby powder is a common substance in most homes, especially homes with babies in it. However, as a person, can you eat baby powder? Although some persons have the unusual habit of eating powder, it is not suitable for one’s health because of the substances it contains. Craving for something like baby powder can be an indication of a health issue that one needs to check with a physician.

Baby Powder And Cancer

There was a time a documentary on the relationship between baby powder and cancer was on the news, and reports of it were in national headlines. Some talc contains asbestos, which is a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when you inhale it. Asbestos mainly consists of silicon and oxygen, although with other elements.

The types of asbestos are two, known as Chrysolite and Amphibole. These two types both have links with cancer. When one inhales asbestos through the air, they can stick to mucus in the throat, windpipe (trachea), and bronchi. These get cleared when you cough it up or swallow it.

However, some fibers can reach the entire small airways in the lungs or even penetrate the outer lung lining as well as the chest wall. When this happens, it can cause lung cancer mesothelioma. Joel Kahan M.D, director of Pediatrics at Syosset Hospital in New York, said that those that always use baby powder, especially on a baby’s face region, are subjecting the baby to the health risks that arising from inhaling these substances into the baby’s lungs. Where this happens often, it can be a hazardous phenomenon to the child’s health.

The Uses Of Talcum Powder

Nursing mothers may not be able to do without applying it to their babies so as to prevent rashes. Adults can also use it by applying it as facial and body powders. Asides using the powder to prevent rashes, people use it as a form of dry shampoo. It is because it also removes oil and grease and makes the hair look freshly washed.

One can use the powder as a pet shampoo for pets such as cats and dogs. It also removes sand that finds its way to your clothing, car, or house after a day at the beach. Just place the powder over the part stained with sands, and it will make it easier to brush off the dirt.

Another use for the talcum powder is that you can use it to untangle necklaces. It is useful for these purposes because of the elements that it contains. Some of these elements are magnesium and silicon, and oxygen.

The Condition Called Pica

The talc powder may not be hurtful in a way when ingested or inhaled. However, the hazards of talc can also expose one to the risk of asthma. It is because our lungs are not for inhaling anything except pure air. It explains why pediatricians usually prefer cornstarch to talc because it is unlikely for one to inhale it quickly.

An Addiction Psychiatrist, Jeremy Martinez, M.D explained that it is possible to have some people who eat non-food items like baby powder, and this may be related to iron deficiency. The condition is w to as pica. Patients of Pica crave and chew substances that have no nutritional value such as ice, clay, soil, powder, or paper.

Since reports and studies confirmed that the deficiency of iron in the body is what causes pica, especially the craving for eating baby powder, then it will be better to concentrate more on the daily intake of irons in your food.

Other causes of asides iron deficiency include stress, cultural factors, pregnancy, etc. The pica condition typically affects young children, especially those with intellectual disabilities. Thus, craving for talc may be a way the body is attempting to get the minerals it has been missing.

You Are Not Alone

Research has shown that there are some other people who also crave weird non-food substances like you. There is a story of a woman called Anderson aged forty-four, mother of five who lives in the United Kingdom. She was secretly gorging on baby powder for ten years before her ex-partner discovered her weird habit.

She will chew mints in public to satisfy her craving. However, she continually feeds on Johnson’s baby powder. The longest she had been without it was two days. Having concluded it as a psychological disorder called pica, she went ahead for the actual diagnosis of the doctors.

There is another woman aged fifty-two, for over two decades of her life, every day, she would eat a handful of Johnson’s baby powder. According to her, she would keep a large container in stock. She said after breakfast, she would reach for the baby powder kept near her bed and eat it. She explained feeling comforting and satisfied when doing it.

Dr. Greg Johnson, an Assistant Professor of Psychology, at Tulsa University in Baltimore County Md., explains that pica is relatively common in little kids around the age of ten. Also, 32% of children from ages one to six try to eat stuff that is not usually food.

How To Stop Craving For Baby Powder

You cannot prevent the need for a baby powder without using a replacement for it. The lack of iron in the body causes one to crave non-food substances. Thus, the best way to stop is to supply accurate and sufficient iron to the body.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for iron for men is 8mg per day. For non-pregnant women, it is usually 80mg per day, while pregnant women are required to take 27mg daily. Although after giving birth, while she is breastfeeding, the intake should drop back to 9mg per day.

The Controversy About Baby Powder

The media has reported several instances where women instituted thousands of cases against Johnson and Johnson concerning their baby powder and how it has caused ovarian cancer from using it in their genital region. The male folk was also not left out in the steaming controversy as they also sued the company.

At some point, the company publicly announced that it recalled 33,000 bottles of its powder from the market as a result of public outcry and concerns with the presence of asbestos and how it caused cancer. When the company made the announcement, stores had to start pulling it off their shelves and stopped selling it.

The Alternatives To Baby Powder

Since the use of talcum powder is traceable to cancer, there are other alternatives to it. These alternatives do not cause cancer. Thus, we shall be taking a look at some of them.

These alternatives are within our easy reach, as one can also find them in stores around us. However, there some other options to talcum powder that can be quite difficult to locate. Where this is the case, you can make your homemade powder.

Baking soda: 

The baking soda you have at home has other uses asides from being an ingredient for baking. It is useful as a replacement for talcum powder. However, using it in its purest form can be harsh on the skin, which is why you can mix it with cornstarch.


Cornstarch is one of the most popular alternatives for the use of talcum powder. Most talcum powder brands are beginning to incorporate cornstarch into their products.

Tapioca starch:

It is an excellent alternative to talcum powder, primarily as it absorbs oil, sweat, and other forms of moisture. You can easily find tapioca starch in any grocery store you enter.

Kaolin clay: 

It is a kind of clay commonly used on the skin and referred to as cosmetic clay. People use it on the skin because it is soft on the skin and also absorbs moisture. It is in containers in stores.

Arrowroot starch: 

The people that usually resort to arrowroot starch are persons that are allergic to cornstarch. It is like the tapioca starch that you get from plants. Thus, the most accessible place you can find the arrowroot starch is a shop that sells healthy food.

Other alternatives to the talcum powder are oat flour and rice starch. It is worthy to note that powder companies are beginning to incorporate these alternatives into their products, thus making it safer for consumers.


Studies have shown that people do not only use baby powder for the common purposes that were the intentions of the powder companies. Surprisingly, people get addicted to consuming baby powder regularly. It is what prompted the question, can you eat baby powder?

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