Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Aqueous Creams Make Eczema Worse

Although aqueous cream has been prescribed for millions of sufferers from childhood, it is the first time research has been carried out on an ingredient called sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS).

Previously it was thought the ‘stinging’ sensation affecting half of users was due to a preservative or antiseptic in the cream. In a study by Bath University researchers, aqueous cream reduced the thickness of healthy skin in volunteers by more than 10 per cent in just four weeks and water loss was increased.

Professor Richard Guy, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Bath, said the remedy was likely to aggravate the dry, itchy rashes that plague eczema sufferers. He said: ‘The skin has a protective barrier layer of lipids, around one eighth the thickness of a sheet of paper, that stops chemicals from getting into the body and keeps moisture in.

‘SLS is a detergent used to mix oils into water-based moisturisation creams to give a nice creamy texture. It’s also used widely in shower gels and other cosmetics. 'Our study has found that rubbing aqueous cream containing SLS into the skin thins this protective barrier, making the skin more susceptible to irritation by chemicals. So to use this cream on eczemous skin, which is already thin and vulnerable to irritation, is likely to make the condition even worse.’ The study was published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Aqueous cream is the most widely prescribed moisturiser for dry skin conditions. It costs the NHS £1.86 for a 500g tub and is also available from pharmacies. The principal ingredients are liquid paraffin, white soft paraffin and purified water.

Margaret Cox, of the National Eczema Society, said the charity did not recommend aqueous cream as a moisturiser. Almost four million Britons have eczema, which is mainly treated with steroid creams. Many eczema sufferers give up using aqueous cream because they find it so irritating - a study in children showed 56 per cent experienced a 'stinging' sensation when they used it.

Children said it caused more discomfort than any other product - and the latest research suggests SLS is the reason why.

Source: Daily Mail 19/10/10

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