13.2.1 Emollients (moisturisers)

ointment base
First Choice:
white soft paraffin 50%/liquid paraffin 50% (preservative–free)
Second Choice:
Hydromol ® ointment
emulsifying ointment BP (preservative–free)
cream base
First Choice:
Zerobase ® cream
Second Choice:
Oilatum ® cream
Zerodouble ® gel
Formulations/Dose
  • white soft paraffin 50%/liquid paraffin 50% (250g, 500g): apply as often as required.
  • Hydromol ® ointment (yellow soft paraffin 30%, emulsifying wax 30%, liquid paraffin 40%) (125g, 500g, 1kg): massage into skin as often as required; may be used as a soap substitute.
  • emulsifying ointment BP (emulsifying wax 30%, white soft paraffin 50%, liquid paraffin 20%) (500g) apply as often as required; may be used as a soap substitute.
  • Zerobase® cream (contains cetomacrogol, cetostearyl alcohol, liquid paraffin 11%, white soft paraffin 10%) (50g tube, 500g dispenser): apply as often as required.
  • Oilatum ® cream (light liquid paraffin 6%, white soft paraffin 15%) (50g, 150g, 500ml pump pack, 1.05L pump pack): apply as often as required.
  • Zerodouble® gel (isopropyl myristate 15%, liquid paraffin 15%, glycerine 10%) (100g tube and 475g bottle): apply as often as required. 
Prescribing Notes
  • The choice of emollient is guided by patient tolerance and ease of use.
  • Ointments should be used for dry skin and chronic eczema. Creams should be used for acute inflammatory eczema.
  • Emollients soothe, smooth and hydrate the skin and are indicated for all dry scaling disorders.
  • Emollients should be applied regularly to maintain improvement; and are particularly effective applied after a shower or bath.
  • These products, apart from white soft paraffin 50%/liquid paraffin 50%, may be used as soap substitutes by firstly wetting the skin, washing with the cream or ointment, then rinsing off.
  • If emollients are being applied to the whole body twice daily, children may need 250g per week and adults 500g per week.
  • It is more cost-effective to prescribe emollients in large pack sizes.
Soap substitutes

First Choice:
ZeroAQS ® cream
oremulsifying ointment
Second Choice:
Zerobase ® cream
orHydromol ® ointment (preservative–free)
Formulations/Dose
  • ZeroAQS ® cream (liquid paraffin 6%, white soft paraffin 15%, macrogol cetostearyl ether 1%, cetostearyl alcohol 7.2%, acrylates 0.8%) (500g): apply as often as required; may be used as a soap substitute.
  • emulsifying ointment BP (emulsifying wax 30%, white soft paraffin 50%, liquid paraffin 20%) (500g) apply as often as required; may be used as a soap substitute.
  • Zerobase ® cream (contains cetomacrogol, cetostearyl alcohol, liquid paraffin 11%, white soft paraffin 10%) (50g tube, 500g dispenser): apply as often as required.
  • Hydromol ® ointment (yellow soft paraffin 30%, emulsifying wax 30%, liquid paraffin 40%) (125g, 500g, 1kg)
Prescribing Notes
  • Most emollients may be used as soap substitutes by firstly wetting the skin, washing with the cream or ointment, then rinsing off.
  • White soft paraffin 50%/liquid paraffin 50% is not suitable as a soap substitute.
  • A convenient way to apply emulsifying ointment and Hydromol® ointment is as “soap balls”, which are made by putting a scoop of the ointment into tubinette or stockinette.
  • Preparations containing benzalkonium chloride can cause skin irritation with continued use.
  • Dermol® 500 lotion contains an antiseptic, so may be suitable for patients who specifically require an antiseptic soap substitute, e.g. infected eczema.

13.2.1.1 Emollient bath additives

Emollient bath/shower products without antiseptic
First Choice:
Oilatum ® 
Emollient bath/shower products with antiseptic
First Choice:
Oilatum ® Plus Bath Additive
Formulations/Dose
  • Oilatum ® Emollient Bath Additive (acetylated wool alcohols 5%, liquid paraffin 63.4%) (250mL, 500mL): add 5–15 mL/bath (2.5–10mL if an infant).
  • Oilatum ® Shower emollient (light liquid paraffin 70%) (150g): apply to wet skin as a shower gel as frequently as necessary.
  • Oilatum ® Plus Bath Additive (benzalkonium chloride 6%, triclosan 2%, light liquid paraffin 52.5%) (500mL): 1–2 capfuls/bath (infant over 6 months, 1mL).
Prescribing Notes
  • Bath additives with antiseptic should be used in patients with infected eczema.
  • Oilatum Plus Bath Additive is not suitable for use in the shower.
  • Preparations containing benzalkonium chloride can cause skin irritation with continued use.