Intended for healthcare professionals

Using emollients effectively

Emollients are used to soften and hydrate the skin. Compared with other treatments, emollients may seem simple and unsophisticated, and may not receive the understanding and respect they deserve. However, as with other drugs, a considered view of their actions, indications, adverse effects and interactions is important. Dryness of the skin results from a decrease or abnormality in skin surface lipids. This allows increased transepidermal water loss (the water which passes directly through the skin surface, rather than through sweat glands) so that the water content of the horny layer (stratum corneum) of the epidermis is indeed reduced. These changes result in poor elasticity of the epidermis, scaliness, fissuring, irritability, soreness and impairment of the barrier function.
Dermatology in practice 2002; 10(6): 12–15
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