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Treating Atopic Dermatitis in the Winter: Moisturizers, Ointments and Creams


Patients suffering from atopic dermatitis may suffer more during the cold, dry winter month. Bernard Cohen, MD, professor of pediatrics and dermatology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, explores various treatment options that will add moisture back into the skin during seasonal flare-ups.


Bernard Cohen, MD:

Hi, I’m Bernard Cohen, I’m board certified in pediatrics and dermatology. People talk about ointments, creams, and lotions. From a cosmetic standpoint, especially in older children, adolescents, and adults, sometimes they're not very excited about using ointments aggressively. But ointments are 80 to 90% oil, and only 10% water. And again, you do want to have a little bit of water in the moisturizers you're putting on because that can actually increase the intake of water into the skin and became somewhat helpful. But like I say, ointments have a very nice barrier function and can put some water in your skin but then the ointment which has an oil base of 90% can actually protect against the water loss; can put some water in the skin because it has some water in the product. But it's very protected. When you get to a cream, you're talking about 50/50. 50% water-based product and 50% oil. And when you get to lotions, some adults, and certainly adolescents, may not be very excited about having ointments on the skin. They're only maybe 80% water and only 10 to 20% oil based. So if you're using lotions (and to some extent if you're using creams), it's important to apply them fairly frequently, especially if using a lotion; I'm talking about like 3 or 4 a day, particularly to areas that are exposed or areas that are most subject to the development of their atopic dermatitis.

Transcript edited for clarity

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