Ointment vs Cream: What’s The Difference

When looking for skin treatment, you might find two kinds of solutions. First are creams and then ointments. Each one delivers a different intent because of how they are made and the fractions of oil and water.

Choosing between a cream and ointment relies on what you are trying to deal with. Another factor is your generalized skin type. It is since some solutions are more intense compared to others.

When determining a preferential, it can take a certain assessment. Here are the necessary statistics you should know.

Composition Of Cream And Ointment

Cream and ointment can be both medication and cosmetic. The main distinction between cream and ointment is the amount of water and oil. Whereas cream has equal shares of water and oil. Meanwhile, the ointment has around 80% oil.


Because of their water content, creams are efficiently taken in by the skin. Creams are ideal for extensive remedies. The oil content is approved if you have dull skin, lesions, or rashes. It is since the solution remains outside the skin for defense contra moisture loss.

Like regular moisturizers, creams are normally stocked in jars. Medication creams like hydrocortisone for rashes and insect bites can come in tubes. It is for more accurate application.


When it comes to skin products, the ointment has the highest oil content. Its goal is to have an occluding effect that means they remain on top of the skin. It is instead of being absorbed faster.

This advances better protection against moisture loss and basis like dry air. Usual ingredients found in ointments have petroleum and mineral oil.

Topical treatments like antibiotics for infections or corticosteroids for psoriasis can be perfect in ointment brands. It is because they don’t dissolve off the skin, assuring complete solution absorption. Highly dry skin can also make use of moisturizers found in ointments.

The Distinction Between Cream And Ointment

Creams and ointments are all useful at treating skin problems. But, each is distinct in production, ingredients, looks, and others. Sometimes, they have identical ingredients, but the mixture differs by product. Here’s how to find out which one is ideal for you and your skincare treatment.

1. Looks And Consistency

Creams are generally light and with a smooth consistency. Not like ointments, creams are usually unnoticeable and instantly absorbed. They are formulated with a mixture of two ingredients, that is oil and water.

Ointments are concentrated and oily. Because they set off a concentrated layer after you spread it to your skin, and they could seem glossy. Ointments are oily and more concentrated. It has more oil content against creams.

2. Contents

The cream has more than 20 percent water and volatiles. It also has a generally smaller than 50 percent hydrocarbons. Also, oils, and polyalcohol as the means for a drug substance.

3. Absorption

Creams have superior absorption quality against ointments. They have lightweight consistencies and are semi water-based. When you spread cream on your skin, the water in the cream vaporizes. For this reason, a thin layer of medication and oil in the skin appears. Due to this effect, doctors prescribe creams when they want the remedy to be absorbed by the skin faster.

An ointment is occlusive. They stay awhile on the exterior of your skin. Also, capture moisture to stop wounds from drying up, and are not carefully absorbed by the skin. In case you have dry skin, applying an ointment can maintain it moisturized.

4. Quantity Of Oil

Creams have less oil than water, managing it for easy absorption. It is because of high water content, and they can be absorbed faster by the skin.

But, ointments contain more oil and less water. Ointments are most suitable to cure dry skin conditions. It is because of the high component of oil, which makes them oilier than creams.

5. Permanence On The Skin

Creams encourage faster skin absorption and are less weighted. They do better on skin conditions like eczema. They usually vaporize faster than ointments.

Ointments capture moisture. They are also absorbed slower into the skin compared to creams. They stay awhile on the skin, and for the treatment to break in, choose ointments.

6. Functions

When it comes to moisturizing, creams are adequate. If you have oily skin, you can use a cream since the absorption of oil is lesser and may help you keep your skin dry. Additionally, creams are said to be non-irritant. You can securely use them if you have delicate skin.

Ointments are oilier. And because of that, they are perfect for treating dry skin conditions like psoriasis. Because ointment has a greater concentration of oil, it can hamper your pores. It can also put your skin at risk of irritation.

7. Coatability

The cream can readily be coatable than ointment. If a huge surface of the body or skin needs to be treated, creams are finer as they’re simple to coat.

Although, ointments can be less coatable on the skin compared to cream. And, the coating of ointments of sweaty skin can be hard. It is because of the water-resistant nature of some ointments.

8. Storage Life

Creams have a short storage life. It is because of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient or API. This ingredient is prone to chemical reactions that can cause deterioration.

The ointment is water-resistant with less than 20 percent water. It has a superior storage life as an alternative.

For instance, hydrocortisone is produced as ointment and cream. The storage life of hydrocortisone ointment is longer than the cream.

9. Treatment Efficacy

Creams are generally finer than ointments for administering. They are also great for discharging or watery skin conditions such as eczema. Creams vaporize instantly compared to ointments and thereby cures conditions quicker.

Ointments are denser because they stay longer on your skin’s exterior. They can increase moisture in the skin and nourish hydration. They are absolute to treat blistered and dry skin conditions.

10. Start And Duration Of Efficiency

The start and duration of the efficiency of cream is faster than ointment. Cream stays on the skin for a shorter period, while ointment stays longer. It means that the duration of ointment is longer than cream.

Familiar Skin Conditions

Skin conditions can differ in symptoms. They could be permanent or momentary and can be acheless or painful. Others have circumstantial factors though others can be genetic. A few skin conditions are superficial, and others could be fatal.

Most skin conditions are superficial and can be treated with cream or ointment. But, others might be serious. You can speak to your doctor if you think you have these familiar skin conditions.


It is an elevated part of the skin filled with water. You’re maybe common with blisters if you wear discomforting shoes for too long. Blisters are usually irritating, uncomfortable, and painful. If you think you have blisters, you should see your doctor.


All forms of acne are often used to describe the term breakout. It is usually associated with hormonal changes experienced during puberty. In fact, even adults can encounter it. Acne is among the most familiar skin conditions among adolescents and adults.


Hives are also called urticaria that is itching, elevated bumps found on the skin. They are commonly red, pink, or skin-colored and, at times, would hurt or inflame. In many cases, hives occur due to reactiveness to foods or medication, or allergen.

Generally, hives are temporary skin conditions. It can be relieved by medications and prescribed cream or ointment.


Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. It is a familiar skin condition distinguished by itchy and red patches of skin. It’s commonly seen in infants and young children. Showing on the faces and Butowever, eczema can come in different types.


Boils are fungal infections that develop beneath your skin at a hair follicle. A carbuncle is a group of boils that have several pus “heads.” They are soft and hurting and cause an oppressive infection which could cause a scar. Carbuncle is also known as an impetigo skin infection.


Psoriasis is a serious skin condition that is an imminent autoimmune disease. It means that your immune system damages your body instead of guarding it. Psoriasis triggers your skin to form flakey patches that are usually red or silvery. It could be painful and itchy.

The patches may reappear over the duration of days to months. There are different kinds of psoriasis, and it’s likely to have more than one kind. To ease irritation, your doctor can recommend a cream or ointment-based moisturizer.

Contact Dermatitis

If you have used a new skin product or detergent and your skin becomes red or irritated. This skin condition takes place when the chemicals you get in contact with will cause a reaction. The majority of contact dermatitis is not critical. But it can be annoying until the itching gets away.


Melasma is a familiar skin condition, and this condition leads to dark, blemished patches on your skin. The patches are gloomier compared to your skin color. It usually appears on the face and consistent, with matching blemishes of both sides of the face. Other areas of the body that are usually exposed to the sun can also form melasma.


Ringworm, identified as tinea, dermatophyte infection, or dermatophytosis, is a skin fungal infection. Usually, ringworm is termed as the body’s ringworm and sometimes referred to as infection to other parts of the body.

This infection can trouble both animals and humans. The infection, at first, will look like red spots on the skin’s affected areas and can scatter to other areas of the body. It can affect the nails, feet, scalp, groin, and other parts.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When Is The Ideal Time To Use Cream?

Basically, people choose creams over ointments. It is because they are slightly sticky and dense on the skin.

But creams are actually hydrating because of their higher water content. Their vaporization also emerges after application. For this reason, creams are more favorable for infected or pus skin conditions.

The thickness of creams is much less than ointments. Also, they do better for coating major parts of the skin.

2. When Should I Use An Ointment?

Among the ideal solutions for dry or flakey skin is ointment. It is occlusive, meaning, they trap moisture and are fully concentrated on the skin. Thereby, ointments can retain moisture for a longer time. They also help in competing absorption from the active substance. Due to preservatives utilized in creams, ointments are exceptional to affect allergic reactions.

3. What Are Some Topical Remedies That Can Come In Both Ointment And Cream Form?

Topical steroids similar to corticosteroids are the most typically used topical remedy. They are mostly utilized to treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema or poison ivy. The effectiveness of given corticosteroids can alter whether it is an ointment or cream. Considering it is occlusive, ointment will permit the remedy to stay on the skin fully than a cream.

Since ointments are thicker, they are usually the top moisturizers utilized by many. They develop a skin barrier that assists in covering moisture in the skin. Types of moisturizers with ointment as their base involve Vaseline, Aquaphor, and Eucerin. When you only want a minor oily mixture, moisturizers with cream as its base in a tube or container are finer than lotions.

Topical antibiotics like Neosporin and Polysporin are general topical antibiotics. These are available in both ointment and cream form. Generic forms of topical antibiotics are also convenient. These are also sold as a triple antibiotic in ointment and cream form. Topical antibiotics can help to treat minor scrapes, cuts, and burns.


Determining the right topical product relies on your skin type. It also relies on how much water and oil an ointment and cream contains.

Ointments have more oil causing them the top choice for dry and rough skin. Creams have a few oils but more water. You can also try a little trial and error technique to opt for the right one.

Before you choose between a cream or an ointment, consider your skin condition that you’re trying to cure. Determine if it’s dry or flakey, infected or moist. These concerns will help you choose the best cream or ointment to use. If you’re not pacified with the outcomes, you can always check with a dermatologist.

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