How Do Topical Protectants Work

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

WHAT ARE TOPICAL PROTECTANTS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

Topical protectants are mild astringents (water-based skincare products) used to treat and prevent various skin conditions including burns, diaper rash, insect bites, and minor skin irritations. Topical protectants are also known as “Barrier cream”, a product applied directly to the skin surface to help maintain the skin’s physical barrier, providing protection from irritants (excessive moisture due to incontinence, perspiration, or wound drainage) and preventing the skin from drying out. 

Topical protectants moisturize the skin by preventing the loss of water in the upper layer of the skin and make the dead skin cells fall off. They also help the skin retain more water, making it smoother and softer.

Topical protectants are available in the form of ointments, creams, lotions, sprays, and powders. They persist on the skin for several hours, even after gentle washing.

HOW ARE TOPICAL PROTECTANTS USED?

 Skin conditions treated with topical protectants include the following:

  • To treat:
    • Diaper rash (due to contact with urine and feces in babies and adults with incontinence)
    • Skin burns from radiation therapy
    • Minor skin irritations (cuts, scrapes)
    • Allergic reactions
    • Insect bites
    • Hand dermatitis (skin is inflamed, red, and swollen, with a damaged dried-?out or scaly surface which makes it look flaky)
    • Stoma dermatitis (an artificial opening that allows feces or urine either from the intestine or from the urinary tract to pass)
    • Pressure sores (areas of damaged skin caused by staying in one position for too long)
    • Skin ulcers/wound healing
  • To prevent:
    • Dry skin
    • Scaly itchy rough skin
    • Wetness
    • Damage from detergents and occupational irritants

WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF TOPICAL PROTECTANTS?

Common side effects include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Slight burning sensation
  • Redness

Other rare side effects include:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

SLIDESHOW

Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 Rashes: Common Adult Skin Diseases See Slideshow

WHAT ARE DRUG NAMES OF TOPICAL PROTECTANTS?

Drug names include:                               

  • Aveeno baby organic harvest diaper rash cream
  • Castor oil/trypsin
  • Cornstarch/kaolin/zinc oxide topical
  • Desitin
  • Desitin creamy
  • Diaparene diaper rash
  • Dyprotex
  • Gold bond medicated baby powder
  • Gold bond original strength body lotion
  • Granulex
  • Menthol topical/dimethicone topical
  • Optase
  • Xenaderm
  • Zinc oxide topical
References
https://reference.medscape.com/drugs/protectants-topical

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-162914/skin-protectant-topical/details

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-162971/moisturizing-skin-protectant-topical/details

https://www.medicinenet.com/zinc_oxide-topical/article.htm#what_is_zinc_oxide

https://dermnetnz.org/topics/barrier-cream/

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