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Using Creams and Ointments On Shabbat

The Daily Halacha Moment - Using Creams and Ointments On Shabbat

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


May one use creams or ointments on Shabbat?


One may use an antiseptic ointment on Shabbat to prevent infection.[1]

It is permitted to use creams for medicinal purposes that are absorbed into the skin if one is extremely pained, such as back pain or other soreness.[2] Similarly, one may apply gel to aching gums and that cause a lot of pain. This can also be done for a child if the cream gets fully absorbed.[3]

Similarly, One may not use oils on his skin to heal himself.[4] However, one may place oil on his body for non-medicinal purposes. A baby, however, may have oil put on his skin even for medicinal purposes.[5]

Adapted From R' Yonatan Nacsons "Laws Of Shabbat" vol. 2, p. 301-302


[1]. Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 3, p. 403. This is permitted even if the skin will be dyed by the lotion.

[2]. This lenient ruling was based on the theory advanced by the Magen Avraham that Memare’ach forbids smoothening a substance on a surface (such as applying wax to the cover of a barrel to seal it), but not when it is absorbed into the surface.

[3]. Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 3, p. 386; Yalkut Yosef, Shabbat, vol. 4, p. 77. See also Ohr LeTzion, vol. 2, 36:6 who states that when applying cream for a diaper rash, one may apply an ointment with a shinuy onto the affected area, a bit on one spot and a bit on another. The baby may then be dressed with a diaper, even though this causes the ointment to become more or less evenly distributed. This is also the opinion of the Shulchan Shlomo, Refuah, vol. 2, p. 105.

[4]. Ohr LeTzion, vol. 2, 35:7; Menuchat Ahavah, vol. 1, 21:81.

[5]. See Shulchan Aruch 327:1; Ibid. 328:22; Halichot Olam, vol. 4, p. 200.

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