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Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 12.02.2023 | 2 min read

Emollients are moisturizing treatments applied directly to the skin to soothe and hydrate the skin. They cover the skin with a protective film to trap moisture and protect the skin.

Emollients are often used to help manage dry, itchy, or scaly skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

They can come as creams, ointments, lotions, gels, and sprays. Some emollients can also be used as soap substitutes in the bath or shower. All emollients are safe for babies, the elderly, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Can emollients be prescribed?

All emollients are available to buy over the counter, but your doctor or pharmacist can recommend the best one, depending on your condition.

How do I apply the emollient?

Always apply emollients as often as needed, and at least 2-3 times a day. If you need to apply steroid creams too, be sure to apply the emollient first to make the skin supple and ready for other treatments.

What are examples of emollient creams?

Examples of emollient creams that you can buy or can be prescribed are Diprobase cream or ointment, Zerobase cream, Cetraben cream and ointment, Doublebase gel, Aveeno cream and lotion, Hydromol ointment, Dermol cream and lotion, and shower gel.

These are just a few examples; the list is exhaustive, but it often involves trial and error to find the right emollient for you.

Which emollient should I start with?

Examples of light emollients include E45, Aveeno, Dermol, and Aqueous cream.

Creamier emollients include: Diprobase, Cetraben, and Oilatum.

Greasy creams include: Epaderm and Hydromol.

Which emollient you start with depends on the severity of your skin condition and what you have already tried. It may be worthwhile starting with lighter emollients and working your way towards greasier creams as required in a step-wise approach.

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