17.10 Emollients, wound management

For emollient products please refer to section 13.2 Emollient and barrier preparations

Emollients provide itch relief, reduce shedding of skin scales, reduce eczema flares and allow dry, cracked thickened skin to return to normal. Their effects are short-lived and they should be applied frequently even after improvement occurs.

There is little evidence to guide the prescribing of emollients; in most cases when changing therapy there is no more sensible guide to the next product to try other than by cost.

Offer a choice of unperfumed emollients for everyday moisturising, washing and bathing. It is important to use a product which suits the patient and is effective for them. Offer alternatives if one emollient causes irritation or is not acceptable. Many patients benefit from a greasier ointment-like preparation at night or on very dry areas such as limbs, and a lighter cream for the daytime or on areas such as the face.

Emollients should be:

  • used more often and in larger amounts than other treatments
  • used on the whole body even when atopic eczema is clear
  • used while using other treatments
  • used instead of soaps and detergent-based wash products
  • easily available to use at nursery, school or work

Adults would normally require at least 250g of emollients per week and children 125g.


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