Topical medications are great alternatives to more traditional oral formulations. They allow absorption of medication directly through the skin, which can avoid potential side effects such as stomach upset or drowsiness. Topical medications, including ointments and gels, target and treat pain, inflammation, and irritation.
What is the difference between an ointment and a gel?
Ointments and gels share some similar characteristics. For instance, they both sit on the skin rather than being directly absorbed like a cream or lotion. This allows the medication to have an extended amount of contact with the skin, so more medication can be absorbed. Because of this, ointments and gels are both great options for products that require a significant amount of medication be delivered topically.
While both formulations offer extended skin contact, that is where the similarities end for these two delivery methods. Ointments are thick and greasy and provide a barrier on the skin that traps moisture. They are great for dry, scaly skin conditions. Gels on the other hand, contain alcohol and are drying. They can be used on skin with hair but should be used with caution on skin that is already very dry.
What can ointments and gels treat?
Between the two of the products, ointments and gels can be used on a wide range of skin conditions, including:
- Psoriasis – ointments and gels can both be used to treat psoriasis, but gels may be preferred over ointments that leave an oily, sticky layer on the skin. Gels are commonly used to treat psoriasis affecting the scalp because they can be applied more easily to areas with hair
- Atopic dermatitis – ointments provide the moisture needed to sooth the dry, irritated skin while also delivering medication directly to the affected site
- Diaper rash – ointments may contain medications, such as corticosteroids to help treat the rash, or just be used as a barrier to provide protection
- Wound care – several gel formulations can be used as a barrier to promote healing. Some also contain growth factors that stimulate healing
- Arthritis – anti-inflammatory medications can be compounded into gels that are applied directly to the joint several times a day to relieve arthritis pain
- Acne – acne medications can be formulated as gels that are easily to apply to the skin. The drying effect of gels may also be particularly beneficial for patients with oily skin
- Rosacea – gels used in combination with moisturizing cream, to combat the drying effect, have been shown to be effective in treating rosacea
There are an endless number of skin conditions that may benefit from a compounded ointment or gel. Talk to your ReNue Rx pharmacist to learn more about the options.
ReNue Rx is a compounding pharmacy that specializes in serving the community with fast, friendly and professional service. The staff is well trained and are willing to help you every step of the way. To learn more, visit ReNue Rx.