All about aqueous creams

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Aqueous Cream BP is a light, hydrocarbon-based emulsion, which is officially registered in the British Pharmacopoeia and categorised by the British National Formulary as a non-proprietary emollient preparation. It is used as a topical, external medicine, emollient moisturiser and general-purpose substitute for toiletries such as soap, shower gel, shaving cream and lip salve.

Aqueous cream B.P


The common ingredients are:

  • liquid hydrocarbons
  • white soft paraffin wax
  • purified water
  • emulsifying wax containing sodium lauryl sulphate
  • cetostearyl alcohol
  • chlorocresol


It is commonly prescribed in the United Kingdom for conditions such as eczema, aquagenic pruritus or atopic dermatitis. Whilst undergoing radiotherapy, patients are advised to use aqueous cream as part of a skin care regime to remedy the erythema that is caused by such treatment.


British researchers found evidence that using the cream to moisturise areas affected by eczema may actually aggravate the condition. They suggested this was due to skin-thinning effects of sodium lauryl sulphate. The National Eczema Society recommends alternatives such as white soft paraffin wax or other types of emollient without such a high content of sodium lauryl sulphate.

Some sources indicate that aqueous cream is not always suitable for use as an emollient, because the preservatives such as phenoxyethanol used to prolong the cream's shelf-life may cause an adverse reaction. Some creams use an alternative preservative—chlorocresol—which is said to cause less reaction.

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