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General Health Channel
Reported December 29, 2006

All Lotions not Created Equally

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The cold dry air of winter brings with it cracked dry skin for many people. But how can you know which over-the-counter lotion or cream will provide the relief you need?

Jeff Moore, a pharmaceutics instructor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, explains lotions and creams contain two main ingredients: oil and water. Individual products run the gamut from mostly oil to mostly water and everything in-between.

Products with higher concentrations of water are usually promoted for their "vanishing" effects and don’t stay on the skin as long as their oil-based counterparts, which act more like a bandage, protecting the skin from the moisture-robbing effects of dry cold air.

Which one is right for you just depends on personal preferences.

Most products also contain a wide variety of other substances, ranging from aloe, cocoa butter, herbs, shea butter, spices, and even a byproduct of the coal industry called coal tar. Vitamins are popular additives as well, although Moore notes some experts believe vitamins must be ingested in order to have any protective effects on the skin.

The key when treating dry skin is to recognize the difference between the common dryness caused by winter weather and more serious skin conditions, which cannot be treated with over-the-counter lotions and creams.

"Most of what you find on the store shelves is fine to apply to alleviate symptoms of dry skin," reports Moore. "However, if you have excessive drying, excessive itching, discoloration, or bumps, you will need a medical application. You are not going to get certain medicinal agents off the shelf and need to see a medical professional for a prescription."

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: /newsalert/.

SOURCE: University of the Sciences in Philadelphia

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