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What is White Ointment?

By C. Peete
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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White ointment is an ointment consisting of 5 percent white wax and 95 percent white petrolatum. This type of ointment also is known as “simple ointment” and is used to treat extremely dry, scaly or callused skin. The ointment breaks down dead skin and softens the skin. It also is used to treat diaper rashes accompanied by a yeast infection in babies 4 weeks old and older. It also might be used to treat minor skin irritations such as skin burns from radiation therapy.

White ointment is available by prescription only. Most users experience no common side effects when using it. Others might experience severe side effects such as hives; swelling around the mouth, face or lips; tightness of the chest; or burning, peeling or reddening of the skin. Medical attention should be sought immediately if any of these side effects occur.

There is a small risk of medications interacting with this ointment, although very little of it absorbs into the bloodstream. People using the ointment should notify their doctor if they are taking any prescribed or over-the-counter medications. Changes in dosage or plans to increase or stop medication also should be discussed with their doctor. Individuals who use nutritional or herbal supplements or who suffer from food allergies or allergies to any other substances should consult with a doctor prior to using white ointment.

Women who are pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant, should consult with their doctor before using white ointment. It is not known if this ointment affects breast milk, but women still should discuss with their doctor any potential risks to their baby. Individuals who use other skin cleansing agents or creams on their skin should let their doctor know. Diabetics also should inform their doctor if they plan on using the ointment.

Individuals using white ointment should wash their hands before applying it to the skin, and the infected area should be washed with a mild soap before application. It should not be applied to open wounds or areas where the skin is broken. The ointment should be used exactly as directed by a doctor or by the package instructions. If a dose is missed, it is recommended that it is applied as soon as possible. Unless the infected area is on the hands, they should be washed immediately after applying the ointment to the infected skin.

White ointment is not to be shared with others. It is to be used only by the person to whom it is prescribed. Use of the ointment should be discontinued and a doctor seen if the infected area does not improve or the condition worsens.

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Discussion Comments

By serenesurface — On Mar 31, 2014

White ointment can actually be made at home by melting white wax and petrolatum and mixing them together. As the name suggests, it's a "simple ointment." White ointment actually serves as a base for many prescription and over the counter ointments because of its protective properties.

By ysmina — On Mar 30, 2014

@ZipLine-- As far as I know, white ointment does not have anti-fungal properties. It's just wax and petrolatum. It works well for dry skin and prevents skin from drying out further. Petrolatum and wax together work like a shield against cold, wind and moisture. That's why it is used for issues like diaper rash which is caused by excessive moisture. If a rash is due to yeast, a doctor will prescribe an anti-fungal ointment in addition.

White ointment is a very effective ointment but from my experience, it works best when skin is already hydrated. So it's a good idea to use a natural moisturizer first and then apply white ointment over it. Or it can be applied immediately after bathing when the skin is hydrated. The ointment keeps the moisture locked in for a long time.

By ZipLine — On Mar 30, 2014

Does white ointment have anti-fungal properties? As far as I know, yeast infections in babies are treated with anti-fungal ointments. How can this type of infection be treated with white ointment?

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