Two studies show that emollient creams to relieve the symptoms of eczema make the condition worse
Aqueous cream BP is currently the most widely prescribed emollient for the treatment of eczema and other dry skin conditions, even though it was originally only used as a wash product. It is meant to moisturise the skin, improving flexibility and preventing cracking.
A study by the University of Bath’s Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology found that when healthy volunteers applied the cream to their forearms daily for a period of four weeks, the thickness of the stratum corneum (the protective outer layer of skin) was reduced by more than 10%. The researchers suggest that using this cream would have an even more dramatic effect on damaged skin such as that found in eczema.
They suggest that it might be better for eczema patients to use oil-based ointments on damaged skin.
Edited to add:
The aim of the study was to investigate changes in normal skin after a 28-day application of Aqueous Cream BP. The forearms of six healthy female volunteers were treated, and at the end of the 28 days the test areas were taped-stripped and various measurements recorded.
The results reported rapid, minimally invasive measures of the effects of the cream at the cellular and molecular level of the skin. One of the causes of this is the protease enzyme, which break down skin proteins. The detergent sodium lauryl sulphate also causes many of the issues identified in the study, yet its presence in the cream is not often clearly indicated.
Source: Wiley online library.
See also Micki Rose’s article – Thinny Skinnies.
Octocber 2010, with additions in May 2011
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