Frequently asked questions

What is dry skin?

When the skin is healthy it forms a barrier between the body and the external environment. This barrier is very effective at keeping water or moisture in the skin and keeping irritants out.

The structure of the skin is often shown as a ‘brick wall’ with the skin cells as the ‘bricks’ and the natural oils in the skin as the ‘mortar’. Normally this forms an effective barrier preventing loss of water from the skin and preventing the skin from becoming dry. If the skin barrier is damaged or there is a change in the structure of the skin that affects the barrier properties, moisture in the skin is lost and the outer layer of the skin becomes dry.

What causes dry skin?

Dry skin may be caused when the skin produces less natural oils which means it is less able to retain moisture. Excessive water loss leaves the skin dry and irritated.

Dry skin is a sign or symptom of a number of medical skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and ichthyosis.

Elderly skin is also prone to dryness due to the changes in the skin as we get older, and the reduction in natural oils.

Where can I get help for my dry skin?

If you are worried about dry skin please contact your GP, nurse or local pharmacist who will be able to give you advice.

What is an emollient?

An emollient is a medical moisturiser which can help to prevent excessive water loss from dry skin. Emollients contain oils which work by replacing lost natural oils in the skin and by helping to repair the skin barrier. Sometimes they also contain humectants which help to hold water in the skin for longer.

Some emollients are designed to be left on the skin and these are known as ‘applied’ or ‘leave on’ emollients. There are other types of emollients known as soap substitutes and these are designed to be used to wash the skin instead of traditional soaps and foaming shower gels and bubble baths.

What is a humectant?

Humectants are naturally occurring substances that love water, and hold onto it very tightly. Humectants help to hold onto water within the skin to reduce dryness. Some emollients contain added humectants, such as glycerol and urea, which are examples of naturally occurring humectants.

How do I apply emollients?

Applying a leave on emollient is simple. Emollients should be smoothed onto dry skin in the direction of hair growth and then allowed to soak in. Don’t vigorously rub the emollients into your skin.

Click here to watch a short animation about applying emollients

Click here to view a helpful emollient advice leaflet

You should read the patient information leaflet within your emollient packs for full instructions, or speak to your doctor or nurse for further information.

How often should I use emollients?

Emollients should be applied regularly throughout the day. Some emollients will require reapplication every 4-6 hours or whenever the skin feels dry.

Some emollients have been designed to be longer lasting and may only require two applications each day, once in the morning and once before bed. However, very dry skin may require more frequent application as required during the day so you should always keep some emollient with you wherever you are.

What are emollient soap substitutes?

Soaps can be very damaging to the skin, especially dry skin. Soap removes natural oil from the skin, which makes it less able to retain moisture. One of the key ingredients of soap products is often sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) which may be damaging and irritant to sensitive skin. SLS can be responsible for the foaming bubbles in shower gels, hand washes and bubble baths and so those with dry skin should avoid products that make bubbles and foam.

Soap substitutes are alternatives to traditional soap which contain gentle cleansers that do not damage the skin. They are effective at cleansing the skin and also contain emollient oils to help protect the skin barrier. Soap substitutes do not foam and should be used where possible instead of traditional soap products.

How do I use soap substitutes?

You should use a soap substitute in the same way as you would normally use traditional soaps, shower gels or bubble baths, either by the sink, in the shower or in the bath. This type of product will not foam or lather but will be better for your dry skin condition.  You should read the patient information leaflet within your emollient packs for full instructions, or speak to your doctor or nurse for further information.

Click here to watch a short animation about using soap substitutes

Click here to view a helpful emollient advice leaflet

What are bath emollients?

Bath emollients are oil based moisturisers that are added to the bath water. When submerged in the bath water they coat the skin in a layer of oil to trap moisture into the skin.

Bath emollients may contain antiseptics to reduce bacteria on the skin or cleansing agents which reduce the need for soap products.

Bath emollients should not contain soaps and so will not create foam or bubbles.

Click here to watch a short animation about using bath emollients

Click here to view a helpful emollient advice leaflet

How do I use bath emollients?

Bath emollients should be mixed into the bath water. You should read the patient information leaflet within your emollient pack for full instructions, or speak to your doctor or nurse for further information.

Can I still use bubble bath and soaps at the same time as using a bath emollient?

No, you should not use bath oils and bubble baths together. The chemicals in the bubble bath will break up the emollient bath oils and make them less effective.

Soap can also have a negative effect on bath emollients so an alternative cleanser, such as a soap substitute, should be used instead. Some bath emollients may contain cleansing agents which reduce the need for soap.

What are the differences between Doublebase Gel and Doublebase Dayleve Gel?

Doublebase Gel and Doublebase Dayleve Gel are two different applied emollient formulations that provide effective moisturisation and protection whilst being nice to use.

They are both highly moisturising and protective hydrating gels suitable for use in the management of dry skin conditions which may also be itchy or inflamed.

Doublebase Gel is the original formulation, which is designed for routine use on dry skin conditions. It contains a high oil content plus the humectant glycerol.

Doublebase Dayleve Gel contains a high level of oils plus a high level of glycerol. It also has a film-forming ingredient included called povidone, which helps to trap the oils and moisture in the skin. It is designed for a long-lasting action to moisturise the skin, and so for some patients it needs to be applied only twice a day.

What size packs are Doublebase Gel and Doublebase Dayleve Gel supplied in?

Doublebase Gel is available in a 100g tube, 500g pump pack and a 1kg pump pack. Doublebase Dayleve Gel is available in a 100g tube and 500g pump pack.

Can Doublebase products be purchased without a prescription?

Yes. Products in the Doublebase range are Pharmacy products, known as P medicines, or General Sales List (GSL) products. They can be purchased from a pharmacy but you may need to ask for the products at the Dispensary as they are kept behind the Pharmacy counter.