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  5. Ointment Vs Cream: What Makes Them Different?

What do you do whenever you have a skin allergy or rash? You set out to purchase a topical medication either prescribed by a doctor or found off the internet. But when you reach the medical store, you might find the same solutions formulated in ointments and creams. So, how do you determine the best one for your skin?

Sometimes, ointments and creams have similar ingredients, but their formulation, composition, absorption quality and feel varies. Here, we’re breaking down the differences to help you easily figure out which is better for your skin.

Let’s begin.

What Are Creams And Ointments?

Creams are common topical medications that contain equal ratios of water and oil. They have light textures and are quickly absorbed by your skin. Creams are water-soluble and are mostly used for cosmetic purposes. They can also be used to treat allergies, rashes or any other skin problem.

Ointments are oily substances used for medical purposes or as cosmetics. Essentially, ointments contain high concentrations of oil and are more greasier and stickier. Ointments usually take longer to get completely absorbed into your skin. However, they are great forms of moisturizers. Ointment like petroleum jelly is highly recommended for its healing properties.

What's the Difference Between Cream and Ointment?

1. Absorption

Creams have better absorption rates as compared to ointments. They come in lighter textures and are partly water-based. When you apply cream on your skin, the water in the emulsion evaporates, leaving a thin layer of medication and oil on the skin. Because of this property, doctors mostly prescribe creams when they want the medication to be quickly absorbed by your skin.

Ointments are occlusive. They stay longer on the surface of your skin, trap moisture in to prevent wounds from drying out and are not well absorbed into your skin. If you have dry skin, using an ointment can keep it moisturized.

2. Consistency

Creams tend to have lighter texture and consistency. They are mostly formulated with the blend of two components, that is water and oil.

Ointments are essentially greasy and have thicker consistency. They contain more oil contents as compared to creams.

3. Appearance

Creams are usually light weight with a smooth texture. Unlike ointments, creams are usually invisible on your skin and are quickly absorbed.

Ointments are thick and greasy. Since they leave a thick layer after you apply it to your skin, they might appear shiny.

4. Proportion Of Oil

Creams contain contain less oil than water, making it easy for absorption. It is due to their high water content that they are absorbed faster into your skin.

Ointments, on the other hand, contain more oil and less water. Ointments are best suited to treat dry skin conditions. Due to the high oil factor, they tend to be greasier than creams.

5. Preadability

Creams have a watery base, so they can be applied on larger areas of your skin. If you have a rash over your whole back, a cream might be easier and less messy to apply than an ointment.

Ointments have thicker textures and are greasier. So it is difficult to evenly spread them over extensive territories of your skin.

6. Stability On The Skin

Creams tend to get absorbed by your skin faster and are less stable. They work best on skin conditions like eczema. They usually evaporate quicker than ointments.

Ointments trap moisture and absorb much more slowly into your skin as compared to creams. They stay longer on your skin. If you need a medication to penetrate deep into your skin, opt for ointments.

7. Uses

ointment on hand applying treatment hydration

Creams are moderate in moisturizing. If you are someone with oily skin, use a cream. Due to less concentration of oil, they can help in keeping your skin dry. Also, creams are said to have low risks of irritation. You can safely use it if you have sensitive skin.

Ointments are greasier; hence are ideal to treat dry skin conditions, such as psoriasis. Since ointments contain higher concentration of oil, they can clog your pores and make your skin prone to irritation.

8. Healing Power

In general, creams are better than ointments for treating oozing or wet skin conditions like eczema. Creams evaporate much quickly than ointments and thus heals such conditions faster.

Ointments are thicker. Since they stay longer on your skin’s surface, they can add moisture to your skin and keep it hydrated. They are ideal to treat dry and scaly skin conditions.

Wrapping Up

Creams and ointments can be either medicinal or cosmetic. However, the primary difference between the two is the ratio between oil and water. While creams are mostly water-based, ointments are oil-based. Before you decide on a cream or ointment, know more about your skin condition. If you are still not sure, consult a dermatologist for advice.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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