Emollients and their role in managing dry skin

‘Emollient’ is the medical term for a non-cosmetic moisturiser that can be prescribed to help manage dry skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, ichthyosis and elderly dry skin. These medical moisturisers are different to cosmetic moisturisers as they are designed to work on very dry skin and they should not contain ingredients like fragrances, which can be unsuitable for sensitive dry skin.

Emollients contain oils which form a layer on the outer surface of the skin, creating a barrier to help stop the loss of water and keep irritants out.

Some emollients may also contain a humectant, such as glycerol or urea, which help the skin trap and hold on to water to further relieve skin dryness.

If you are prone to dry skin conditions, continue to apply your emollient even when your skin feels better. This will keep your skin in good condition and stop it becoming dry again.

There are different types of emollients that may be prescribed: Applied or Soap Substitutes.

  • Dry Skin
  • Skin with an emollient on