London: Using creams to relieve symptoms of eczema could actually worsen the condition, a study shows.
Researchers have shown that the popular aqueous cream BP reduces the thickness of healthy skin over a period of four weeks, casting doubts over whether the cream should be used for treating eczema.
Originally used as a wash product, the cream is currently the most widely prescribed emollient for the treatment of dry skin conditions, reports the British Journal of Dermatology.
It is used to moisturise the skin, improving flexibility and preventing cracking in the protective outer layer, called the stratum corneum, according to a University of Bath statement.
The cream contains a detergent, called sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), which can increase the permeability of the skin barrier and cause irritation.
Richard Guy, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Bath in UK and project supervisor, explained: "Our study has found that rubbing aqueous cream containing SLS into the skin thins this protective barrier, making the skin more susceptible to irritation by chemicals."
The study found that when healthy volunteers applied the cream to their forearms daily for a period of four weeks, the thickness of the outermost layer of the skin was reduced by more than 10 percent.
Researchers anticipate that using this cream would have an even more harming effect on damaged skin.
Postgraduate researcher Manda Tsang said: "Eczema affects around 30 percent of the population, an increase from around five per cent a generation ago."