Types of emollients

Emollients are available as:

  • moisturising creams, ointments, lotions and sprays
  • bath oils and shower products
  • soap substitutes

They are available in tubes, tubs and larger pump dispensers, and can either be bought over the counter from your pharmacy or be prescribed by your GP, nurse or health visitor.

If you or your children need to use an emollient regularly, it's a good idea to keep somein small pots or tubesat home, school or work.

Leave-on products

There are a variety of emollients thatcan be applied to the skin to help with specific problems. For example:

  • occlusive emollient creams and ointments these create a film over the skinto prevent water evaporating
  • humectant-containing emollients these contain additives such as urea glycerol, popylene glycol and lactic acid to attract and hold water in the top layer of skin
  • antipruritic emollients these contain ingredientsto help treat Pruritus
  • antiseptic emollients these contain ingredientsto prevent infection

The best emollient is the one that suits your skin condition. You should be given the opportunity to try a variety of emollients.

Soap substitutes (emollient wash products)

The everyday use of soaps, shampoos and showergelscan removethe surface layer of natural oils on your skin. This can make your skin dry and further aggravate long-term skin conditions such as eczema .

Soap substitutes are one type of emollient that can be used instead of soap for handwashing and bathing.Although soap substitutes do not producefoam like normal soap, they are just as effective at cleaning the skin.

Many of these leave-on products can also be used as a wash product.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018