Fatty ointment for eczema

Hi everyone, 
I am looking into making a suitable moisturizer for my son who has severe eczema. He has tried a number of moisturizers but the effective ones always contain paraben derivatives which I want to avoid. Other ones without parabens are useless basically as they can not last long and the skin is dry again very soon after the application.

The very effective prescription topical drug he is using whenever eczema flares up is Advantan fatty ointment, which can significant reduce the allergy and at the same time retain the moisture on skin. The formula for Advantan from the instruction is:
1. 1mg/g methylprednisolone aceponate
2. Heavy liquid parafiffin
3. White soft paraffin
4. Microcrystalline wax
5. Hydrogenated castor oil

I thought it may be worth a try to create the base ointment without the active corticoid ingredient number 1 because this may be a suitable moisturizer for my son. As other ingredients from the list (from 2-5) could be ordered from a chemist's, I plan to have the following recipe for the ointment: 

1. Heavy liquid parafiffin 50%
3. White soft paraffin 30%
4. Microcrystalline wax 5%
5. PEG-40 Hydrogenated castor oil 5%
6. Glycerin 10%

With my zero knowledge in cosmetic formulation, please help to comment on my recipe, any comment is appreciated. 
Thank you all.


  • jemolianjemolian Member
    I believe the alternative name for the Hydrogenated castor oil would be "Castor Wax"? Have you considered trying another ointment like Aquaphor instead? 
  • NguyenNguyen Member
    Hi Jemolian,
    Thanks so much for your quick response. I haven't tried Aquaphor before but definitely I will give it a go as the ingredients seem 'not aggressive' and this product is available in local stores here. At the same time I'll go ahead with the creating the ointment for the first time as nearly all ingredients have arrived, :). Thanks for updating me with the name Castor Wax as I had no idea they are equivalent.
    By the way, is there a big difference between PEG-40 and normal hydrogenated castor wax in terms of stability and efficiency that you or anyone may share from your experience?
    I've read somewhere that a byproduct of the PEG-40 hydrogenated castor wax is dioxane, which can cause cancer. If there is not much difference, I would choose the normal one.
    Thanks again for your comments.
  • jemolianjemolian Member
    The PEG version is a solubilizer so there is no use for it to be in the formulation since the functionality is different. You can subsitute another wax if required. 
  • natzam44natzam44 Member
    I understand that you want to avoid parabens, but as someone with pretty harsh eczema, they are probably my favourite preservative. In my case, I have had bad reactions with other preservatives but parabens have always worked really well with my skin.

    Your son may have similar results if you're willing to give the paraben-containing products a chance.
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    ointments are generally water-free and water-resistant, generally they don't contain preservatives at all
    Nguyen said:
    By the way, is there a big difference between PEG-40 and normal hydrogenated castor wax in terms of stability and efficiency that you or anyone may share from your experience?
    I've read somewhere that a byproduct of the PEG-40 hydrogenated castor wax is dioxane, which can cause cancer. If there is not much difference, I would choose the normal one.
    Thanks again for your comments.
    they are physically very different materials - PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil is a sticky, lanolin-like paste miscible with water, while hydrogenated castor oil/castor wax is a very hard, hydrophobic wax that can gel oils
    PEG derivatives designed for use in personal care or pharmaceuticals contain less than 1 part per million of dioxane, so your exposure to it is minimal to non-existent

    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    If you're going to incorporate glycerol you will have to use an emulsifier and PEG-40 HCO might actually work though you don't need as much.
    Replacing part of the paraffins with natural oils can be attempted, also hydrogenated peanut oil (partially hydrogenated and hence added at higher %, common pharmaceutical ingredient in Switzerland) or hydrogenated rapeseed oil may be used instead of HCO.
    Beeswax: 0.5
    Cetearyl alcohol: 1
    Cetylpalmitate: 2
    Emollients: ~10
    Hydrogenated peanut oil: 20 (or hydrogenated rapeseed oil at 5-10)
    Peanut oil (or other oils such as sunflower or almond): 20
    Liquid paraffin: 20
    Soft paraffin: 20
    Other ingredients (emulsifiers, glycerol, water, preservatives etc.): the rest ad 100

    If you add an emulsifier, your ointment may become self-emulsifying and/or easier to wash off. However, it may not be as occlusive as without.
    You might try and add urea (which as to be 'suspended' = hard work) instead of glycerol and safe the emulsifier ;) .

  • NguyenNguyen Member
    Wow, thanks so much everyone for the very considerate and informative comments. Really appreciated.

    @Jemolian: I will try switching it to castor wax instead of the PEG-40 version, or reduce the latter percentage to fit glycerol in as @Pharma has suggested. Thanks mate.

    @Natzam44: Totally agree with you, I can't avoid paraben products 100% because they are so effective. A 'rescue' moisturizer is Dexeryl, which is always a backup one for my son in case others do not work. But as you know, he has to apply moisturizer almost all over the body 1-2 times a day, especially in winter days, so I'd want to minimize the paraben one as I am afraid of accumulation given the large application area. As said, if only there's something that works without paraben, that'll be awesome, :). I'll buy Aquafor as Jemolian suggested and go on with this. It's just a temporary peace of mind because I know everything is chemicals and depends on the concentration to be harmful or useful. Even drinking too much water can harm, :). Thanks for sharing.

    @Bill_Toge: Thanks for opening my eye Bill about the physical properties and uses of both version. Very helpful to me about the fact that the wax is use to gel oil, which is mineral oil in this case. I now understand why they have it in the formulations, :).

    @Pharma: Thanks a lot Pharma for the detailed recipe. Unfortunately beside eczema my son has a range of allergies including peanut, eggs and sea food. So I'll replace peanut oil by others like jojoba/almond oil as I have tried them before and they are OK. Do you think it's a good replacement? Would love to try your recipe, hopefully I can order other ingredients from local shops. You know, it's supposed to be a homemade daddy version and not the lab work, so it's a bit restricted in ingredients purchase, :smiley:. Thanks.
  • natzam44natzam44 Member
    Bill's comment reminded me about an ointment I have sitting around that I have found awesome for eczema. It is called Eucerin Aquaphor multipurpose healing ointment.


    There it is on amazon.

    It is very greasy and heavy but if your son wants to apply it to his most painful spots only, that could help.
  • NguyenNguyen Member
    @Natzam44: Thanks so much, I'll have a try for that too if the normal Aquaphor doesn't work.

    Guys, I have tried preparing my first formulation ever and it's kind of very interesting experience. A bit too much wax (microcrystalline wax) doesn't help as it solidified quickly into candle like material, so I've added plenty of mineral oil to keep the mixture in soft ointment. I've also made use of the available product Dermeze lying unused in my home (containing only liquid parafin and white soft parafin) as its texture looks great. (https://www.dermeze.com.au/dermeze-treatment-ointment/)

    From what I learned from Bill, I removed the castor wax from the recipe as I think both microcrystalline wax and castor wax do the same function to solidify the mixture. So the tried recipe was as belows:
    1. 20 parts Liquid parafin
    2. 40 parts Dermeze
    3. 5 parts Microcrystalline wax
    4. 25 parts Glycerol

    The final mix looks nice, but it doesn't seem to help much with the skin dryness. So I'll try @Pharma's recipe above replacing the suitable vegetable oil to see how it goes. 

    Thanks everyone.
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