Emollients are moisturisers, such as E45, that can help maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier and rehydrate the skin. Here’s how they work.
Available in various forms – creams, ointments, lotions or gels – emollients contain lipids, such as soft paraffin – noted by the team at E45.
Soft paraffin is particularly helpful to eczema-prone skin as it works as an effective skin barrier.
Lathered over the original defective skin barrier, soft paraffin helps lock in moisture.
To understand this process more fully, it’s beneficial to know a little bit more about the skin structure.
Skincare brand E45 detailed how healthy skin cells are held together with natural oils (lipids) – akin to how bricks together due to cement.
In the above analogy, the bricks are the skin cells and the lipids is the cement.
This tight cohesion of skin cells and lipids forms the skin’s natural protection barrier, keeping moisture in and irritants out.
People with eczema, on the other hand, the lipid layers (cement) don’t work properly.
The lipid is unable to do its job properly and fails to attract and retain moisture.
This means necessary moisture is lost from the skin, resulting in very dry skin.
In addition to dry skin, the defective skin barrier enables irritants to enter.
This is when skin becomes red, inflamed and itchy – the hallmarks of an eczema flare-up.
Should an eczema flare-up surface, it’s so important to avoid the temptation to itch the skin as this will cause more damage, stated the team from E45.
Emollients create a protective layer that sits on top of the skin, retaining and attracting moisture to hydrate the skin.
Leave-on emollients include ointments, creams and lotions which all serve their own purpose.
Ointments are the greasiest eczema treatment, usually reserved to treat very dry skin at night time.
Creams are a mixture of oil and water, and so can be less greasy when applying to the skin.
Lotions are the least oily eczema treatment, but they may need to be applied more frequently to keep the skin hydrated.
Then there’s wash-off emollients or soap substitutes to be used while bathing.
These products aren’t fragrances and don’t foam like ordinary shower gels. This is to prevent loss of moisture in the skin.
Furthermore, they still wash the skin effectively while being more gentle on sensitive skin.
The best way to apply an emollient is to build a skincare routine that works for you.
One more note, it’s worth bathing in warm, not hot, water to reduce eczema symptoms, commented the E45 team.
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