Maximising your skin treatment

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Ten tips to help you to get the most out of your creams and ointments

  1. Bathing should be used as a moisturising event. Use both a bath oil additive and a separate soap substitute. Baths should not be too hot.
  2. Common soap substitutes are aqueous cream and emulsifying ointment. To improve the consistency of emulsifying ointment add to hot water and whisk, this forms a smooth white cream. If skin is sore and cracked apply to the affected area before immersing in water to prevent the stinging sensation.
  3. Pat the skin dry. Do not rub the skin hard. Skin may look redder following bathing - this is normal.
  4. Freshly bathed skin is at its most receptive for applying topical steroids, if prescribed. Otherwise, immediate application of an emollient captures the increased water content of the skin and delays the drying out process.
  5. Generously dot the skin with the preferred moisturiser and smear in a downward motion following the natural hair fall. Avoid applying in an enthusiastic, circular motion as this may irritate the skin and block up the hair follicles.
  6. Emollients come in a wide range and the severity of the skin disease will determine the type of moisturiser to use.
  7. Dry, cracked and scaly skin needs the occlusiveness and oiliness of an ointment such as 50% liquid paraffin in 50% white soft paraffin or grease-based emollients. Skin that is less dry may require a lighter emollient.
  8. To ensure the texture of the skin stays waxy and pliable, emollients should be reapplied before the skin feels dry and rough again. Apply liberally.
  9. Topical steroids should be applied to freshly bathed skin or 30 minutes after moisturisers have been applied. Allowing the moisturiser to soak into the skin improves the efficacy of the steroids.
  10. Always read the label and patient information supplied with your treatments.