Skip to main content

On this page you will find information, links and resources relating to prescribing for skin conditions.

  • Emollients should only be prescribed for the management of diagnosed dermatological conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. Minor conditions are suitable for self-care.
  • Patients who do not have a diagnosed dermatological condition or risk to skin integrity (maintenance) should no longer receive NHS prescriptions and are advised to purchase emollients over the counter. Refer for self-care.
  • See emollient quick reference guide below for cost effective emollients.
  • If the most cost effective choice emollients are not satisfactory for a patient, after a trial, then all other emollients remain on formulary as patient choice is an important factor in the management of eczema and other skin conditions.
  • Bath oils/ shower products should not be prescribed. (Rare exception for complicated patients under the dermatologist.) See BATHE study.
  • Aqueous cream is non-formulary: may cause skin irritation, particularly in children with eczema, possibly due to sodium lauryl sulfate content.
  • Paraffin-based emollients are flammable. Dressings and clothing that have contact with paraffin based products are easily ignited by a naked flame. Advise patients to keep them away from fire or flames and not smoke when using them. The risk of fire should be considered when using large quantities of any paraffin based emollient. Please refer to MHRA link and guidance. Patients should be counselled to wash bedding/clothing regularly at 60 degrees, to minimise the build-up of impregnated paraffin which can be a fire hazard.
  • Patients on medical oxygen who require an emollient should not use any paraffin based products.

The Heath and Care Video Library have some useful videos for patients to support them with various skin conditions.

View BNF prescribing quantity guidance.