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Lotion

A lotion is a low- to medium-viscosity, topical preparation intended for application to unbroken skin; creams and gels have a higher viscosity. Most lotions are oil-in-water emulsions using a substance such as Cetearyl alcohol to keep the emulsion together, but water-in-oil lotions are also formulated. Lotions are usually applied to external skin with bare hands, a clean cloth, cotton wool or gauze; creams and gels usually only with one's fingers or palms. Many lotions, especially Hand Creams and Face cream are formulated not as a medicine delivery system, but simply to smooth and soften the skin— these are particularly popular with the aging and aged demographic groups, and in the case of face usage, can also be classified as a cosmetic in many cases.

The key components of a skin care lotion, cream or gel emulsion (that is mixtures of oil and water) are the aqueous and oily phases, an emulgent to prevent separation of these two phases, and, if used, the drug substance or substances. A wide variety of other ingredients such as fragrances, glycerol, petroleum jelly, dyes, preservatives, proteins and spoon faced agents are commonly added to lotions.

Lotions can be used for the delivery to the skin of medications such as:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antiseptics
  • Antifungals
  • Corticosteroids
  • Anti-acne agents
  • Soothing, smoothing, moisturizing or protective agents (such as calamine)

Aside from medical use and usage in skin care, lotions are often used as accessories to aid massage, sexual foreplay or masturbation.

It is not uncommon for the same drug ingredient to be formulated into a lotion, cream and ointment. Creams are the most convenient of the three but are inappropriate for application to regions of hairy skin such as the scalp, while a lotion is less viscous and may be readily applied to these areas (many medicated shampoos are in fact lotions). Historically, lotions also had an advantage in that they may be spread thinly compared to a cream or ointment and may economically cover a large area of skin, but product research has steadily eroded this distinction. Non-comedogenic lotions are recommended for use on acne prone skin.

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