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Difference Between Ointment and Cream

creamOintment vs Cream

Topical medication is the common form of treatment for most skin disorders. But when you go to a pharmacy, you will find the same solutions formulated in ointment or creams. Some say that the difference is mainly semantics. However, these two formulations have distinct differences which are important so you can choose which one is best for you.

The type of formulation is the first difference between creams and ointments. Cream is primarily water based. Basically, it is oil in water. On the other hand, an ointment is based in oil. It means it is a preparation of water in oil.

In order to illustrate this difference, you have to look at the specific percentage of water and oil content of ointments and creams. For example, an ointment consists of 80 percent oil and 20 percent water. Meanwhile, creams are generally composed of 50 percent water and 50 percent oil. But there are topical cream products with much lower oil component.

The spreadability factor is also a major difference between ointment and cream. Ointments are greasier and they have thicker consistencies. So you may not be able to spread ointments over large areas of the skin. Creams on the other hand have lighter consistencies so these work better if you want to cover large areas.

Creams can be quickly absorbed by the skin. Ointments on the other hand stay longer on the surface of the skin and not easily absorbed. Ointments are best used on dry skin. They will keep the skin moist for longer periods thus promoting faster healing. Creams on the other hand promote skin dryness. So they are better used on oily and greasy skin conditions.

It is really up to your doctor to prescribe which one is best for you: cream or ointment. The difference between creams and ointments boil down to their chief components. The former is water-based while the latter is oil-based.


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3 Comments

  1. Grea,t simple, and precise explanation!! Thank-you!!

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