Tincture of benzoin

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Tincture of benzoin is a pungent solution of benzoin resin in ethanol. A similar preparation called Friar's Balsam or Compound Benzoin Tincture contains, in addition, Cape aloes or Barbados aloes and storax resin.[1][2] Friar's balsam was invented by Joshua Ward around 1760.


Compound Benzoin Tincture is often applied to skin under adhesive bandage. It protects the skin from allergy to the adhesive and makes the bandage adhere longer.[3] It is also used by athletes for its reputation of toughening skin. Orthopedists often apply it under a cast, because it protects the skin and diminishes itching.

It can be applied to skin fissures, canker sores and fever blisters as a styptic and antiseptic.[3]

Tincture of Benzoin is also used in alternative medicine and is inhaled in steam as a treatment for various conditions including asthma, bronchitis and common colds. There is no medical evidence to support its use or effectiveness for these purposes.

It is used in the U.S. military to treat blisters. A common treatment utilized by medics in the U.S. Army is to drain the fluid from a blister and then inject enough compound tincture of benzoin into the void to glue the blister to the underlying skin, to serve as a local antiseptic, and to prevent further abrasion or loss of skin. This is commonly known as a "hot shot" amongst military personnel due to the extreme burning sensation that will be experienced for several moments when the tincture is applied.[citation needed]

Both compounds are also used in cosmetics.


  1. ^ "Compound Benzoin Tincture", British Pharmacopoeia, 3, 2009
  2. ^ "Compound Benzoin Tincture", United States Pharmacopeia, USP29-NF24, 2006
  3. ^ a b R. A. Wascher; P. J. Barcia (1996). "Tincture of benzoin: clinical and microbiological implications of reusable containers". Military Medicine. 161 (3): 143–145. PMID 8637641.