Intended for healthcare professionals

The use of emollients in dermatology

The skin acts as a barrier to the hostile environment, protecting against irritants, stopping the entry of allergens and preventing water loss. Itchy, dry skin may reflect damage to this epidermal barrier. Causes of itchy, dry skin include atopic xerosis, ichthyosis, contact with irritants and degreasing chemicals; dryness also occurs as part of several other inflammatory dermatoses. Treatment should be aimed at preserving and restoring this epidermal barrier. Topical steroids should be used to reduce inflammation, with emollients to maintain the epidermal barrier.
Dermatology in practice 2000; 8(2): 26–27
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