Baby Oil: FSA Eligibility
What is baby oil?
Baby oil is a moisturizer that is safe to use on a baby's skin, and typically consists of mineral oil that is enhanced with fragrance. Mineral oil is a catch-all term that constitutes a wide variety of potential products, which typically consists of higher alkanes and is closely related to petroleum jelly and other petroleum distillates. Baby oil acts as an emollient for a child's skin, as it can moisturize the upper layers of the epidermis, decrease itching and flaking and can protect from future skin irritation (LiveAbout).
How does baby oil differ from other moisturizers?
A baby's skin is far more sensitive than adult's, as babies have not yet developed an "acid mantle," a protective layer of secretions from glands underneath the skin that discourage the growth of fungi and bacteria that can lead to a wide variety of potential health issues. Additionally, this layer is the body's means of naturally moisturizing the skin, but during the first few months of a baby's life, the acid mantle's protection against microorganisms is not as effective.
Because most moisturizers aim to support the health of adult skin that has a pH of 5.5 or higher, baby oil acts as a safe and effective means of protecting a baby's skin from dryness, adding an extra barrier to prevent excess moisture loss and helping to rejuvenate dry, cracked skin (The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne).
Why isn't baby oil reimbursement covered?
According to IRS regulations regarding the reimbursement of products and services through consumer spending accounts, IRC 213(d) states that purchases must relate to: "medical care includes amounts paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body."
Because baby oil is not designed to prevent or alleviate specific medical condition, it is not eligible for reimbursement with an FSA, HSA, HRA, LCFSA or DCFSA. However, baby oil does play a role in preventing dry skin conditions and supporting a baby's overall immune system, but because it does not play a role in a treatment plan for a specific illness or condition, it is therefore considered a product for "general health purposes" and not covered by consumer spending accounts.