Emollients - topical
zinc oxide-cod liver oil 40 % topical ointment
This medication is used as a moisturizer to treat or prevent dry, rough, scaly, itchy skin and minor skin irritations (e.g., diaper rash, skin burns from radiation therapy). Emollients are substances that soften and moisturize the skin and decrease itching and flaking. Some products (e.g., zinc oxide, white petrolatum) are used mostly to protect the skin against irritation (e.g., from wetness).
Dry skin is caused by a loss of water in the upper layer of the skin. Emollients/moisturizers work by forming an oily layer on the top of the skin that traps water in the skin. Petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil and dimethicone are common emollients. Humectants, including glycerin, lecithin, and propylene glycol, draw water into the outer layer of skin. Many products also have ingredients that soften the horny substance (keratin) that holds the top layer of skin cells together (including urea, alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic/citric/glycolic acid, and allantoin). This helps the dead skin cells fall off, helps the skin keep in more water, and leaves the skin feeling smoother and softer.
Use this product as directed. Some products require priming before use. Follow all directions on the product package. If you are uncertain about any of the information, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Some products need to be shaken before use. Check the label to see if you should shake the bottle well before using. Apply to the affected areas of the skin as needed or as directed on the label or by your doctor. How often you apply the medication will depend on the product and your skin condition. To treat dry hands, you may need to use the product every time you wash your hands, applying it throughout the day.
If you are using this product to help treat diaper rash, clean the diaper area well before use and allow the area to dry before applying the product.
If you are using this product to help treat radiation skin burns, check with radiation personnel to see if your brand can be applied before radiation therapy.
Follow all the directions on the label for proper use. Apply to the skin only. Avoid sensitive areas such as your eyes, inside your mouth/nose, and the vaginal/groin area, unless the label or your doctor directs you otherwise. Check the label for directions about any areas or types of skin where you should not apply the product (e.g., on the face, any areas of broken/chapped/cut/irritated/scraped skin, or on a recently shaved area of the skin). Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. Most moisturizers need water to work well. Apply the product after bathing/showering while the skin is still damp. For very dry skin, your doctor may instruct you to soak the area before using the product. Long, hot, or frequent bathing/washing can worsen dry skin.
If your condition persists or worsens, or if you think you may have a serious medical problem, seek immediate medical attention.
Most emollients can be used safely and effectively with no side effects. However, burning, stinging, redness, or irritation may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
If your doctor has prescribed this medication, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur:
- unusual changes in the skin (e.g., turning white/soft/soggy from too much wetness)
- signs of skin infection
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:
- itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- severe dizziness
- trouble breathing
In the US -
Before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the product; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
If you have any of the following health problems, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this product:
- skin cuts/infections/sores
Some ingredients (e.g., preservatives, fragrance) may make you more sensitive to the sun. Check the label for any warnings or ask your doctor or pharmacist if you need to take any special precautions when in the sun. Your doctor/pharmacist may suggest that you limit your time in the sun, avoid tanning booths and sunlamps, and use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Tell your doctor right away if you get sunburned or have skin blisters/redness.
Some products may worsen acne. If your skin is prone to acne breakouts, look for the word "non-comedogenic" (will not clog pores) on the label. Some products may stain/discolor clothing. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding, especially if you are applying this product to the breast area.
If you are using this product under your doctor's direction, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor or pharmacist first.
If your doctor has directed you to use this product, or if you use any prescription product on the skin, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use, including other skin care products.
Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share the list with your doctor and pharmacist.
This medicine may be harmful if swallowed. If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Some ways to help prevent dry skin include using lukewarm (not hot) water when bathing, taking baths/showers less often (e.g., every 1-2 days), keeping baths/showers short, and using a humidifier when the air is very dry.
There are many types of emollient products available. Some contain fragrance or other ingredients that some people may be sensitive to. Emollients are available in different forms such as oils, creams, lotions, or sprays. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist on the product that may be best for you.
If you are using this product on a regular schedule and miss a dose, use it as soon as you remember. Do not use more product or use it more often than directed to catch up.
Refer to storage information printed on the package. If you have any questions about storage, ask your pharmacist. Keep all drug products away from children and pets.
Do not store the foam canister near high heat (more than 120 degrees F/49 degrees C), and do not store or use it near an open flame. Because foam canisters are under pressure, do not puncture or burn the canister.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.
Information last revised February 2019.
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