Skin & Wound Care Moisturizer Components

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By Kathi Thimsen RN, MSN, WOCN

Looking for a moisturizer? Look no further than the faucet! Did you know that water is the ONLY moisturizing ingredient? It’s true. All of the other ingredients in popular skin and wound care moisturizers are simply to keep the water where we want it to be on our patient’s skin.

When selecting a moisturizing product for a patient’s condition, check the ingredients for agents that serve as humectants. This type of ingredient attracts, holds, and binds moisture to the skin.

The combination of water, a humectant, and ingredients that create a barrier against “trans-epidermal water loss” (TEWL) produce a moisturizer’s desired effects.

A common agent used as a humectant is propylene glycol. Yes, this is antifreeze. Dangerous ingredients, when used in specific concentrations, can be safe and effective in delivering the intended use and outcome of the product.

Light skin barrier ingredients might include:

  • Shea butter
  • Petrolatum
  • Zinc oxide
  • Over 600 varieties of barrier components

Moisturizing products containing high levels (or high quality) ingredients require a lighter delivery to provide the best coverage to the skin. Knowing a moisturizing product’s ingredients is critical to a safe and defensive practice. It is equally important to know the quality of the ingredient components. Less expensive products may contain low-grade ingredients with more contaminants, impurities or irritants, which may increase the risk of patients having an adverse reaction to the product.

Care Tip: When is the optimal time to apply a moisturizer? After cleansing and rinsing of the skin, pat dry. While skin is still moist or dewy, apply a thin coat of moisturizer. Allow it to be thoroughly absorbed so the moisturizer can penetrate into the epidermis to hydrate and protect the skin.

Want to learn about barrier ingredients? Wait until next time…

About The Author
Kathi Thimsen RN, MSN, WOCN is a leader in the field of wound and ostomy care, publishing articles, presenting at conferences nationally and internationally, and serving on numerous committees and education boards including the International Association of Forensic Nurses Ethic Committee.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.

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