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What Are the Different Types of Urea Lotions?

By Marco Sumayao
Updated May 21, 2024
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Urea lotions have various uses and come in different types to address different skin problems. The most common types are topical lotions, facial moisturizers, and urea creams, although other products have scalp care and antibacterial applications. These products work as a moisturizer on affected areas and can kill harmful organisms on the skin.

The most popular use of urea in a lotion is the rehydration of dry skin. Skin problems can occur when too much water evaporates from the outer layer of skin cells and when the natural oils on the skin surface get stripped due to age and washing. Topical lotions can treat dry skin by penetrating the outer layer and improving the skin’s capacity to retain moisture. The moisturizing ingredients mixed in with the urea lotions provide extra oil to the skin’s surface, preventing water from evaporating in the future.

Urea’s ability to lock in moisture also makes it a powerful ingredient in facial moisturizers. Unlike other lotions and creams that contain mineral oil and lipids, which only moisturize the skin’s surface, urea cream goes deep into the skin layers and retains water internally. This makes the skin supple and soft for longer periods of time, as compared to non-urea products. The lotion cannot improve skin that is already chapped or sunburned, however, and it should never be applied on open wounds or raw skin.

Some aestheticians and medical professionals recommend urea lotions for treating flaky skin on the scalp. Scalp lotions can be used to address recurring dandruff or to control an oily scalp or hair. After the hair is washed with a mild shampoo, the lotion is applied onto the scalp until the affected areas are completely covered. Experts advise individuals to leave the lotion on the scalp overnight to maximize results, although this depends on a medical professional’s evaluation of the patient’s skin. The urea penetrates the scalp to bring water within the skin layers and keep them there, often providing a long-term solution to scalp flaking.

Other urea lotions are used as a complementary treatment to bacterial skin infections. Scalp lotions with urea are designed to get rid of the bacteria that cause flaking and dandruff. When applied to the nails, urea creams can help eliminate nail fungus by improving the skin’s ability to absorb antifungal medications. In this regard, however, the products should be used as complements to the treatment, not as a treatment itself.

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Discussion Comments

By stl156 — On Nov 10, 2011

Does anyone know if there are any therapeutic lotions with urea that would be a good treatment for keratosis pilaris? For those of you not familiar with it, keratosis pilaris is a condition that causes red patches of bumps on the skin that look a lot like acne. They aren't pimples, though.

I have tried a few things, but I haven't found anything that I really like. I don't really want to have to go to a dermatologist, either.

For anyone else who might also have different issues, are urea lotions good for eczema and skin conditions like that?

By Emilski — On Nov 10, 2011

I think having a good moisturizing lotion around is a must. I am a guy, so I don't usually moisturize my hands or anything like that on a regular basis, but I live in the north and am outside a lot during the winter.

Since there is so much wind, it is really easy for your face to start getting wind burnt or chapped. Now whenever I know I will be outside for a while, I always make sure to put on some dry skin lotion to make sure I don't run into any problems with chapping.

What I did think was interesting from the article was using urea lotions on the scalp to reduce dandruff. I didn't know there were any types of lotions that would help with things like that.

By jcraig — On Nov 09, 2011

@kentuckycat - Good questions. First and foremost, the urea used in these types of lotions does not come from urine from any human or animal. Yes, urea technically is a chemical that is part of normal waste processes in most animals. For the purpose of making lotions, though, urea can be created in a lab. By the way, urea is also a major source of nitrogen fertilizer for different crops. I remember there was some ridiculous urban myth I heard going around a few years ago about body lotions containing urine, which is absurd.

As for your other question, I believe that most lotions made today do have urea in them. Ones that are labeled as moisturizing lotions most certainly have urea. It is not typically mentioned on the label that it is a urea lotion, but you can always read the ingredients list if you want to make sure.

By kentuckycat — On Nov 08, 2011

I don't think I have ever heard of urea lotions before. What are these? Are they normal hand lotions like you can buy at the store, or are they something more specialized? Are urea lotions usually marked as having urea in them?

Also, wouldn't urea be part of urine, so I have to ask, where does the urea for lotions come from? I would expect it is not something disgusting, but I have to ask.

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