emollients in dry skin conditions

Last edited 09/2019 and last reviewed 09/2022

  • emollients result in a reduction of water loss from the epidermis. If used regularly the use of emollients may reduce eczema flare-ups and the need for topical steroids (1)

  • the degree of oiliness in different emollients varies 'light' creams (least oily) to 'greasy' emmolients (most oily). The best emollient effect, in general, is achieved with the use of 'greasy' products.
    • 'light' or creamy emollients include aqueous cream, E45 cream, diprobase, oilatum cream.
    • 'greasy' emollients include emulsifying ointment,BP; white soft paraffin,BP; white soft paraffin 50%/ liquid paraffin 50%

  • ointments are better than creams at retaining skin moisture and preventing further dryness and cracking. Therefore ointments are favoured for the treatment of flaky, very dry skin or for overnight application


  • MeReC Bulletin (1998), 9 (12), 45-8.