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What is urea?

Urea is naturally present in healthy skin. It is one of the three natural moisturizing factors on the outside. horny layer of our skin The other two natural moisturizing factors are lactic acid and amino acids. There are markedly reduced amounts of urea in dry skin conditions.

Current Synthetically manufactured urea preparations, alone or in combination with other medications, can be particularly useful in treating scaly and itchy dry skin conditions including:

  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
  • Psoriasis
  • Ichthyosis.

Urea is also known as carbamide.

How does urea work?

Urea preparations are emollients which are essential in managing dry skin conditions. Emollients hydrate dry skin by reducing water loss from the epidermis (top layer of skin) resulting in smoother and more supple skin.

Specific actions of urea include:

  • Moisturizing effects: urea is strongly hygroscopic (water-loving) and draws and retains water within skin cells
  • Keratolytic effects urea softens the horny layer so it can be easily released from the skin's surface
  • Regenerative skin protection. Urea has a direct protective effect against drying influences and, if used regularly, improves the ability to epidermal barriers to regeneration
  • Soothing effects of irritation. urea has antipruritus local based activity anesthetic effects
  • Penetration aid effects Urea can increase the penetration of other substances such as corticosteroids, as it increases the hydration of the skin.

Urea preparations

Urea preparations come in various forms and strengths. Available dosage forms include cream, lotion, shampoo, gel and shower / bath washes. The strengths of urea preparations range from 3 to 40%. The form and strength chosen depend on the condition being treated and the severity of the condition.

The most widely used urea preparation in New Zealand is a 10% cream. The cream helps the urea retain water longer stratum corneum and prevents water loss by slowing evaporation. Urea 40% aqueous solution It can be compounded by a pharmacist and has been used to treat hairy black tongues, acne conglobata, and to dissolve and eliminate disease. nail (medical avulsion of nails).

Most urea preparations are available at your pharmacy. Higher strength preparations and preparations containing other active ingredients, such as corticosteroids (hydrocortisone), may only be available with a prescription.

How to use urea preparations

Urea preparations are for external use only.

  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Do not use on broken (cracked or bleeding) skin or any area that is infected or oozing, or where there is a severe extended redness of the skin.
  • Urea preparations can be used in children 1 year of age and older if a dry skin condition is diagnosed and has been recommended by the doctor.
  • For undiagnosed conditions (normal dry skin), low-concentration urea preparations can be used starting at 3 years of age.

What are the side effects of urea preparations?

Urea preparations are generally well tolerated. Side effects that can occur include mild itching, itching, and skin. eruption. These generally don't require medical attention unless they continue and become bothersome.