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How to Utilize Urea Cream for Treating Dry, Scaly Skin

Dry skin can be both painful and stubborn, resisting even the most hydrating lotions and moisturizing creams. If your cracked dermis refuses replenishment, perhaps it's time to consider shedding it altogether instead of attempting to heal it. That's where urea comes in—a skincare ingredient renowned for its ability to provide intense moisture by breaking down rough, dry areas that hinder product absorption while simultaneously hydrating the skin beneath. Think of it as a dynamic duo in your battle against dry skin.

While milder urea creams are available in lower concentrations, such as urea 10 and urea 20, the strongest variety boasts a concentration of 40 percent to truly deliver results. In this guide, board-certified dermatologists detail how to effectively use urea for dry skin, outlining its benefits, potential side effects, and everything else you need to know.


TYPE OF INGREDIENT: Keratolytic emollient (softens tissues)

MAIN BENEFITS: Works by dissolving the intracellular matrix, effectively loosening dead, scaly skin. This makes it highly effective for addressing conditions such as calluses, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and keratosis pilaris. Additionally, it aids in drawing moisture into the skin, providing intense hydration.

WHO SHOULD USE IT: Recommended for individuals with dehydrated, flaky, or scaly skin, or those experiencing any of the aforementioned skin conditions.

HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE IT: Generally, it's advised to apply to the affected areas one to three times a day, or as instructed by a healthcare professional. If applying to areas other than the hands, remember to wash them immediately afterward to avoid inadvertently treating the skin on the hands.

WORKS WELL WITH: Products containing urea 40 are best used on their own.

DON'T USE WITH: Avoid combining with other products, as urea 40 is typically recommended for standalone use.

What Exactly is Urea?

Urea serves as an intensely moisturizing ingredient, naturally occurring in the human body to uphold a healthy and hydrated skin barrier. Renowned for its "keratolytic" properties, it effectively softens the skin by breaking down keratin. Urea is a naturally occurring byproduct of protein metabolism in our livers. Synthetic urea is manufactured for skincare use. Analogous to hyaluronic acid, another humectant and prevalent skincare ingredient produced by our bodies in small quantities, urea is present in all skin types. However, in skincare products, urea is synthesized, and its concentration may vary across different items such as creams and gels. In addition to its humectant properties—drawing moisture from the air and retaining it within or under the skin's surface—urea plays a pivotal role in skincare.

What are the Effects of Urea in Skincare? Upon application to the skin, urea aids in loosening dead, dry skin and elevating moisture levels, making it an effective treatment for calluses, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and keratosis pilaris. Urea molecules possess a keratolytic effect. These substances moisturize by breaking down keratin, the protein that binds skin cells together, essentially eliminating the rough top layer to facilitate deep moisture penetration. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals seeking to shed dead, dry skin from their complexion's surface, and urea-based products are available both over-the-counter and via prescription.

Skin Benefits of Urea Incorporating a urea-containing product into your skincare regimen offers numerous benefits, including:

Intense Moisture Addition: Urea is available in various concentrations, each tailored to address specific concerns. Lower doses, typically labeled as urea two or urea 10, are ideal for adding moisture to extra-dry skin areas or treating mild athlete's foot. Higher concentrations, such as urea 40, deliver a significant moisture boost, making them effective for treating dry, rough skin and persistent skin conditions.

Exfoliation of Dead Skin: Urea penetrates thick skin, like foot calluses, effectively softening cracked feet. Its exfoliating properties also render urea 40 beneficial for addressing eczema, psoriasis, and corns.

Anti-fungal Properties: Urea is commonly incorporated into creams to treat fungal foot conditions, aiding in combatting fungus around the nails and softening thick fingernails and toenails. Utilizing urea in high concentrations to enhance the delivery of other biologically active molecules in the skin, such as anti-fungal/yeast medicines.

How to Incorporate Urea Before applying urea-based products.

Determining the appropriate dosage for your skincare needs is crucial to avoid potential side effects. Lower urea concentrations yield milder results and are suitable for individuals seeking to moisturize dry skin areas or treat mild athlete's foot. For highly concentrated urea solutions to address conditions like eczema, consulting a physician is advisable to pinpoint the most suitable product. Typically, urea creams above 10 percent are found within the urea 20 to urea 40 range.

To target rough body areas such as cracked heels, sealing in moisture with urea 40 alongside a simple DIY mask is recommended. Applying it to the affected area and covering it with a cloth, such as a sock, to safeguard and retain moisture. Urea 40 is not intended for use as an all-over body or facial moisturizer and should be applied only to areas experiencing extreme dryness, such as elbows, knees, and feet.

How Often Should Urea Be Applied?

Regardless of the dosage determined by you and your healthcare provider, application of urea is typically recommended twice daily unless otherwise advised by your physician.

Urea Side Effects

Potential side effects associated with urea 40 include rare occurrences of burning, itching, irritation, or skin breakdown. If you experience irritation following the use of urea 40 cream, it may be advisable to consult your doctor regarding potentially lowering the dosage or adjusting the frequency of application. To optimize the benefits of urea 40 cream, take care to prevent any contact with your eyes, nose, mouth, or groin area during application to the skin. Additionally, refrain from applying urea 40 to areas with broken skin or cuts.

When considering the use of urea 40, it is primarily suitable for individuals seeking to address exceptionally dry skin. If you are consistently grappling with a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, urea 40 may prove beneficial in treating rough, itchy skin, particularly during flare-ups. However, for individuals seeking a general moisturizer, a lower dosage of urea or a hydrating cream or ointment containing urea as an ingredient alongside others may be more suitable.

Kaye's Beauty Book is here to help you choose better products that suit your skin, hair and lifestyle. All of the products mentioned are carefully researched and selected to ensure that the most credible information comes to you. If you do buy a product from one of our links, Kaye's Beauty Book may earn a commission.

II DISCLAIMER: Every skin is different, not everything works for everybody. I recommend you test the product before completely using any new product. II


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