Emollients are moisturising treatments that help to reduce water loss from your skin and keep it supple.

This means they can be soothing, helping to reduce itchiness, cracking and flaking. By softening the thickened areas of scale, they allow other topical treatments to work more effectively.

Emollients can be in the form of ointments, moisturising creams, gels, lotions, oils and soap substitutes.

Making the most of moisturisers

Regular use of a moisturiser is important so get into a routine. It can feel like a hassle but it's a positive investment in yourself - you will feel better and look better.

Choose a moisturiser you like. You're much more likely to use it regularly. It may take a few tries to find the right combination for you.

Caution: Emollients may contain oils which can catch fire. When they get in contact with dressings, clothing, bed linen or hair, there is a danger that a naked flame or cigarette smoking could cause them to catch fire. To reduce the fire risk, people are advised to be very careful near naked flames. It is advisable to wash clothing which is in contact with emollients daily and bed linen regularly.

Emollient types


Very greasy

  • 50% Liquid soft paraffin/
    50% White soft paraffin
  • Emollin spray


  • Hydromol ointment
  • Epaderm ointment
  • Emulsifying ointment

Rich cream

  • Unguentum cream
  • Doublebase gel
  • Dermamist spray
  • Neutrogena dermatological


  • Diprobase cream
  • Cetraben cream
  • Oilatum cream
  • E45 cream
  • Dermol cream (antimicrobial)


  • E45 lotion
  • Dermol 500 lotion (antimicrobial)

Doctor’s top-tip

Sometimes you’re told to put your moisturiser on before your topical treatment and sometimes you’re told to put it on afterwards. Which is it?

Both can be right. It’s often better to put your moisturisers on before other topical treatment so you don’t end up spreading the other cream or ointment you have just carefully applied. BUT for some treatments the moisturiser works as a barrier – in these cases it is better if the moisturiser is applied later. Always ask for instructions on how best to apply your treatments.

Nurse's top-tip

Use a moisturiser everyday especially after showering or bathing. Dry your skin gently before applying. Apply with downward strokes in the direction of hair growth - for example from elbow to wrist. This stops thicker moisturisers blocking the hair follicles (the bit the hair grows out of)
so they don't become bumpy and sore.

Patient's top-tip

If you don’t know about soap substitutes ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. They are less drying and really useful if your skin is dry and cracked.

Make notes

Use this section to note down what moisturisers you've used in the past.

Use this space to write down any thoughts about your moisturisers

What do I use now?

What stops me
using them?

Could you change your
morning routine or apply
them at a different time?

Which work well for me?

What helps me use them?

I found a moisturiser I liked - I put a reminder in the bathroom to use it every day - it eventually became a habit like cleaning my teeth.

For further advice or information please consult your healthcare provider or psoriasis patient association in your region


The University of Manchester
Manchester Academic Health Science Centre
psoriasis association
Salford Royal NHS
Funded by NIHR
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