From ArticleWorld

An ointment is a thick, semi-solid, partially-clear substance used as a vehicle for medications applied to multiple body areas. Ointments can also be used without medication for the purposes of soothing the skin, lubrication or providing a moisture barrier for the skin or mucus membranes. Petrolatum jelly is an example of an unmedicated ointment. Generally, ointments can be differentiated from creams by the fact that ointments are not water soluble and are clearer than creams.


Skin ointments include A and D ointment which contains vitamins A and D. This is used for the treatment of diaper rash in babies. It is also used to keep urine from irritating the skin when the baby wets the diaper. Tiger balm is used in the Orient and contains a number of ingredients that help the skin feel hot when applied, such as clove oil, cinnamon oil, camphor and menthol. Ointments containing anti-viral medication are used for the treatment of cold sores.

In the U.S., “Mentholatum Heating Rub” is an ointment used to loosen congestion when applied to the chest or near the nose. In addition, antibiotic ointment can be purchased over-the-counter in order to prevent or treat minor skin infections.

Eye ointments can be non-medicated and be used for lubricating dry eyes. It can also contain antibiotics for those with conjunctivitis. Newborn babies receive ointment containing an antibiotic to protect their eyes from infections they can get while passing through the birth canal.

Nasal ointments can prevent excessive dryness or nosebleeds when applied to the nasal septum of the nose. The ointment can be non-medicated, such as petroleum jelly, or can contain Neosporin, bacitracin or other anti-bacterial agent. For congestion of the nose, a small amount of mentholated ointment placed on the skin near the nares is appropriate; however, mentholated ointment on the mucus membranes themselves would be very irritating.

Some people use ointments on the glans of the penis or inside the vagina to improve lubrication during sex. The problem with using that type of product is that it isn’t water soluble and does not wash off well, nor does it easily come out of clothing or bedding. Water-based lubricants that designed for sexual use are substantially better.