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Cetraben

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read
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The Cetraben line of skincare products has been formulated to treat dry, sensitive, or eczema-prone skin. It includes creams, lotions, cleansing creams, and ointments and comes in a variety of pack sizes.

Like many other dry skin products, the main ingredients in Cetraben are soft white paraffin and light liquid paraffin. These work by protecting the skin barrier and preventing water loss from the skin. It also contains glycerol, a humectant that retains water in the skin, and citric acid, a gentle exfoliant that can help to remove a build-up of dead skin cells that’s common in eczema.

With regular use, this repairs dry skin, but depending on the severity, this might need to be used up to four times a day to see the best effect.

Doctor’s advice

Who is it for?

While this is targeted for those with inflamed, irritated, or dry skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, it’s so effective and gentle that anyone can benefit. As we get older and lose the protective properties of collagen and elastin, our skin can become drier, so it’s a good choice for the elderly. Children may also benefit, as they often have more sensitive skin or need moisture replaced from activities such as swimming.

So many eczema creams available, which one is best?

There is no one right answer. In general, most eczema-targeted skin products contain the same main ingredients: soft white paraffin and light liquid paraffin, but in different quantities. But different products may add in other types of moisturizers or exfoliants and antimicrobials. So, it really is about trying a product and seeing if it works for you.

In terms of formulations, ointments are recommended for very dry, scaly, or rough skin, as they last much longer between applications and provide more skin repair. But they have a greasy texture and may not be agreeable to everyone. Creams and lotions are less greasy but will need frequent reapplication.

Some skin products use an alternative to paraffin, such as oatmeal, as in the Aveeno product line.

Any reason to avoid it?

Cetraben is very well-tolerated. However, anyone with any allergies to any of the ingredients listed, such as paraffin, should avoid Cetraben. Also, it should not be applied to a fresh burn.

Are there any side effects?

Cetraben contains soft white paraffin, which is flammable. This may transfer onto clothing or bedding, so care should be used to avoid open flames.

The ingredients in Cetraben may cause allergic or sensitivity reactions in some. Side effects include burning, stinging, itching, and redness of the area. In this case, stop using it, remove it from the skin by washing it with water and a mild soap, or wiping away with a towel. Seek medical advice if necessary.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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