Scales, cracks, fissures and itching.
If you’ve ever struggled with dry skin, you know how uncomfortable this problem can be. One of the best ways to find relief is by using emollients. Perhaps you’re not really sure what’s meant by the term “emollients“. Simply put, these are creams, lotions, and ointments used for oiling skin so that it’s moist and flexible. Emollients are also used as a daily treatment for people who have eczema and psoriasis. Here’s what you need to know about emollients and how they can relieve chronic, dry skin.
Emollients vs. Moisturizers
Although many people think emollients are the same thing as moisturizers, they’re different. Usually, an emollient pertains to a certain ingredient that’s found within a finished moisturizer. That is, an emollient is just one ingredient, while a moisturizer is a final product, composed of many ingredients, including a few emollients.
How Do Emollients Work
Emollients act as plasticizers for your skin. In addition to helping your skin hold water, emollients also moisturize your dry skin and relieve itching. What’s more, they soften cracks and reduce scaling. Furthermore, emollients let other types of topical skin treatments reach your skin.
Emollients have a triple function, serving as a humectant, occulder and lubricant.
- Humecant—An emollient functions as a humecant by hydrating all the layers of the skin. By keeping water in your skin in areas where it’s most needed, damaged epidermal skin cells are able to repair themselves.
- Occulder—As an occulder, emollients create an additional layer of oil to your skin, sealing in moisture and reducing or slowing down the amount of water loss.
- Lubricant—Emollients also function as a lubricant as they reduce friction from items that can rub against your skin.
As a result of these three properties, your skin cells are able to repair and heal, maintaining a healthy skin function.
Emollients for Specific Skin Diseases
Medicated emollients contain certain medicated formulas for treating particular skin problems, such as eczema and psoriasis. Eczema is a chronic skin condition where the affected skin becomes inflamed, dry, red, cracked and itchy. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated skin disease where patients develop thick, flaky, red skin plaques on the body.
Considerations When Using Emollients
- Emollients vary as to their ratio of lipid or oil to water. Those containing high lipid content feel more sticky and greasy than emollients with a low amount of lipid. High oil emollients make your skin look shinier.
- It’s best to apply emollients when your skin is moist. For example, use them after showering, bathing and washing your hands to occlude and lock in moisture into the skin. Apply the emollient after patting your skin dry so it is still somewhat damp.
- Even if you don’t tend to have dry skin, using an emollient cream after bathing or showering can still help protect your skin and keep it healthy.
For additional questions about skin care and all your skin conditions, contact Dr. Mamelak today.Previous Post Next Post