Emollient therapy for the treatment of eczema

Author: Molnlycke Health Care

What is eczema?

Eczema is a dry skin condition that comes in many different forms, the most common being atopic eczema. In mild cases, the skin is dry, scaly, red and itchy. In more severe cases there may be weeping, crusting and bleeding. Eczema is highly prevalent, with an estimated 413 cases per 10,000 of the general population and with as many as 1 in 5 children below the age of 1 being affected.(1)

What causes eczema?

Skin needs its own natural oils to keep supple and moist, and to help prevent infection. When someone has eczema these natural oils are lacking, which makes the skin feel dry. The skin is unable to retain moisture due to its protective barrier being damaged. Dry skin can sometimes become cracked, allowing germs to infect the skin and cause inflammation. This can lead to redness and itching that feels like it just has to be scratched. You really need to resist the temptation to scratch, as scratching eczema leads to skin damage, increased inflammation, bleeding and a thickening of the skin. The more you scratch the more the skin itches. This itch-scratch cycle can do more than just damage the skin. The constant need to relieve the itch can cause sleep disturbance for you and your family; making everyone feel tired and miserable.

Living with Eczema: Triggers and Treatment

Avoiding common triggers altogether is a good way to limit the number of eczema flare-ups you experience but this can be extremely difficult. However a good treatment regime can help to keep symptoms under control. Using an emollient, such as Epaderm® Ointment or Epaderm® Cream, will help calm irritated skin. Below is further information about the Epaderm range.

Epaderm® Ointment – the 3 in 1 treatment

Emollients can be applied as often as necessary. Emollients, like Epaderm, act as a film barrier on your skin, allowing skin to remain moisturised. Epaderm is additive, fragrance, colour and SLS free, making it ideal for those who have irritated skin. Epaderm Ointment simplifies your emollient therapy routine, as it can be used in 3 different ways.

Epaderm Ointment as an emollient

When using Epaderm Ointment apply as liberally and frequently as needed, during times of flare up and when the skin has calmed to prevent further irritation.

Directions for use: Apply Epaderm Ointment directly onto the skin and work into the skin in the direction of hair growth. This will lessen the risk of blocking hair follicles, allowing skin to take in moisture.

Epaderm Ointment as a cleanser

Epaderm Ointment can also be used as a skin cleanser. Many soaps and cleansers are not suitable for those with eczema. Epaderm Ointment cleanses the skin thoroughly without stripping away any moisture, keeping skin soothed, clean and flare-up free.

Directions for use: Scoop a small amount from the tub, lather under warm water and then use as a normal soap or cleanser.

Epaderm Ointment as a bath additive

It can be beneficial to soak in the bath to ensure the best possible rehydration.

Directions for use: Take about 4 grams of Epaderm from the tub (size of a £2 coin) and melt this in a cup of hot water. Allow it to cool completely and then add to the bath. Be aware that adding Epaderm Ointment to the bath will make the surface slippery, so take extra care when stepping in and out of the bath. Do not apply the hot Epaderm Ointment solution directly to the skin.

Epaderm Cream – the 2 in 1 treatment

Epaderm Cream is a lighter, non-greasy emollient used treat eczema. Formulated for less severely affected skin, it can be used during the day comfortably under clothing. Epaderm Cream contains high levels of glycerine; a naturally occurring humectant that helps skin retain water, leaving it hydrated and smooth.

Epaderm Cream as an emollient

Emollients are most effective when applied liberally and as often as possible. Epaderm Cream is at its most effective when applied immediately after washing as it locks in moisture and limit the loss of natural essential oils in the skin.

Directions for use: Apply Epaderm Cream directly onto the skin in the direction of hair growth, ensuring that hair follicles are not blocked.

Washing with Epaderm Cream

Cleansers that are too harsh can lead to a skin flare-up and dehydration of the skin. Epaderm Cream gently cleanses, ensuring skin is properly washed without drying it out.

Directions for use: Dispense a small amount onto your hand, lather with warm water and then use as you would a normal soap or cleanser.

How much Epaderm to use

Emollients should be applied at least twice a day to be most effective. The British Association of Dermatologists recommends that the following amounts should be used per week for full body application:

  • Children (under 10 years) – 250g per week
  • Children (age 10+) and Adults – 600g per week

Epaderm Ointment is available in 3 sizes: 125g, 500g and 1kg pots.

Epaderm Cream is available in 2 sizes: 50g and 500g pump dispensers.

Buying Epaderm

You can buy Epaderm from your local Boots or pharmacy and the full range is available on prescription from your doctor. If you cannot see Epaderm displayed in your local pharmacist you can request it over the counter without a prescription.

Find out more

To buy any of the Epaderm range, visit your Boots or your local pharmacist. To find out more visit www.epaderm.com

Read independent reviews for Epaderm cream


1. Schofield JK, Fleming D, Gindlay D, Williams H (2011) Skin conditions are the commonest new reason people present to general practitioners in England and Wales. Br J Dermatol 185: 1044-1050

2. McHenry PM, Williams HC, Bingham EA. Management of atopic eczema. BMJ 1995

3. Data on file C-D_001-JO-001.

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Last revised: 7 December 2017

Next review: 31 December 2018