This medication is used as a moisturizer to treat or prevent dry, rough, scaly, itchy skin and minor skin irritations (e.g., diaper rash, skin burns from radiation therapy). Emollients are substances that soften and moisturize the skin and decrease itching and flaking. Some products (e.g., zinc oxide, white petrolatum) are used mostly to protect the skin against irritation (e.g., from wetness).
Dry skin is caused by a loss of water in the upper layer of the skin. Emollients/moisturizers work by forming an oily layer on the top of the skin that traps water in the skin. Petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil and dimethicone are common emollients. Humectants, including glycerin, lecithin, and propylene glycol, draw water into the outer layer of skin. Many products also have ingredients that soften the horny substance (keratin) that holds the top layer of skin cells together (e.g., urea, alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic/citric/glycolic acid, and allantoin). This helps the dead skin cells fall off, helps the skin keep in more water, and leaves the skin feeling smoother and softer.
How to Use This Medication
Use this product as directed. Some products require priming before use. Follow all directions on the product package. If you are uncertain about any of the information, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Some products need to be shaken before use. Check the label to see if you should shake the bottle well before using. Apply to the affected areas of the skin as needed or as directed on the label or by your doctor. How often you apply the medication will depend on the product and your skin condition. To treat dry hands, you may need to use the product every time you wash your hands, applying it throughout the day.
If you are using this product to help treat diaper rash, clean the diaper area well before use and allow the area to dry before applying the product.
If you are using this product to help treat radiation skin burns, check with radiation personnel to see if your brand can be applied before radiation therapy.
Follow all the directions on the label for proper use. Apply to the skin only. Avoid sensitive areas such as your eyes, inside your mouth/nose, and the vaginal/groin area, unless the label or your doctor directs you otherwise. Check the label for directions about any areas or types of skin where you should not apply the product (e.g., on the face, any areas of broken/chapped/cut/irritated/scraped skin, or on a recently shaved area of the skin). Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. Most moisturizers need water to work well. Apply the product after bathing/showering while the skin is still damp. For very dry skin, your doctor may instruct you to soak the area before using the product. Long, hot, or frequent bathing/washing can worsen dry skin.
If your condition persists or worsens, or if you think you may have a serious medical problem, seek immediate medical attention.
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Information expires June 2016.