Saturday , October 24 2020
cream-vs-ointment

Difference between Cream and Ointment

Cream and Ointment are semisolid dosage forms intended for topical application only. The main difference between Cream and Ointment is regarding base or percentage of base used. Cream and Ointment both are effective at treating various skin problems as an anti-inflammatory, antibiotics, antifungal, and protective agents.

Cream and ointment of the same API are available, now which one is better?

Sometimes the same ingredient formulated as both ointment and cream. In that case which one is recommended by a doctor for you or which one is suitable for your body skin? It depends on your skin type either dry or moist, amount of surface area of the skin need to apply, and desired duration of action. For example, if you need to cover the large skin surface area and the duration of action is no issue, in this case, cream is better for you. But if you need to cover the small skin surface area and prolong the duration of action require, in this case, an ointment is better for you.

Although Cream and Ointment both are semisolid dosage form they have many differences. The difference between Cream and Ointment are discussed point by point. Let’s have a look at the difference between Cream and Ointment:

1. Definition of Cream and Ointment

Creams are opaque, viscous, relatively soft, consistently spreadable, semisolid dosage form that often comprise more than 20% water & volatiles and normally less than 50% hydrocarbons, waxes, or polyols as the vehicle for the drug substance, intended for external application.

On the other hand, Ointments are semisolid dosage forms that comprise less than 20% water & volatiles, and more than 50% hydrocarbons, waxes, or polyols as the vehicle, intended for external application.

2. Appearance

Generally, creams are white to off-white color but may have different colors such as yellow (Nystatin Cream USP). While ointments are usually translucent but may have various colors like light yellow, yellow (Cipladine ointment) and black (Ichthammol ointment) etc.

Difference between Cream and Ointment

3. Nature of Formulation 

Generally, the cream is a water-based semisolid preparation whereas an Ointment is an oil-based semisolid preparation.

4. Constituents

The cream contains more than 20% water and volatiles and normally less than 50% hydrocarbons, waxes, or polyols as the vehicle for the drug substance [1].

On the other hand, ointment contains less than 20% water and volatiles, and more than 50% hydrocarbons, waxes, or polyols as the vehicle [1].

5. Viscosity

Generally, Creams are thin. While ointments are thick.

6. Spreadability

Pharmaceutical cream may be easily spreadable than the ointment. When a large surface area of the body needs to apply medication, creams are better as they are easy to spread.

On the other hand, Pharmaceutical ointments may be less spreadable on the skin than cream and make an occlusive layer on the skin. Also, the spreading of ointments on moist skin surfaces may be tough due to the hydrophobic nature of most ointments.

7. Greasiness 

Generally, Creams are non-greasy or less greasy than ointment. While ointments are greasy than cream.

8. Absorption 

Creams are absorbed faster via the skin than ointments. While ointments are absorbed slower through the skin than creams.

9. Onset of action 

The onset of action of cream is faster than the ointment. While the onset of action of ointment is slower than cream.

10. Duration of action

Cream stays for a lesser time thus the duration of action is short. On the other hand, an ointment stays longer on the skin, so the duration of action is longer than cream.

11. Shelf-life 

If an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) is prone to hydrolysis which may lead to degradation of that drug in cream and hence cream have shortened shelf-life. On the other hand, by using a hydrophobic ointment base this problem may be avoided in the ointment. Also, the ointment has less than 20% water. An ointment has a longer shelf-life usually. For example, Hydrocortisone is formulated as both ointment and cream. But shelf-life of Hydrocortisone ointment is greater than in an oil in water cream.

12. Stains on clothing 

There is no chance of staining cloth by using creams. Whereas Ointments can leave stains on clothing.

13. Wash off

Creams are non-greasy thus more easily washed off using water whereas ointments are not easily washed off.

14. Example 

Example of cream are: Betamethasone Valerate Cream, Zinc Acetate 0.2% cream, and Econazole Nitrate cream etc.

Example of ointment are: Hydrocortisone Ointment, Bacitracin Ointment, and Lidocaine Ointment etc.

Summary of the difference between Cream and Ointment

Features Cream Ointment
Definition Creams are opaque, viscous, relatively soft, consistently spreadable, semisolid dosage forms that often comprise more than 20% water and volatiles and normally less than 50% hydrocarbons, waxes, or polyols as the vehicle for the drug substance, intended for external application. Ointments are semisolid dosage forms that comprise less than 20% water and volatiles, and more than 50% hydrocarbons, waxes, or polyols as the vehicle intended for external application.
Appearance Usually white to off-white Usually translucent
Nature of Formulation Water-based semisolid preparation. Oil-based semisolid preparation.
Constituents More than 20% water and volatiles and normally less than 50% hydrocarbons, waxes, or polyols as the vehicle. Less than 20% water and volatiles, and more than 50% hydrocarbons, waxes, or polyols as the vehicle.
Viscosity Thin Thick
Spreadability Easily spreadable. Less easily spreadable.
Greasiness Non-greasy or less greasy Greasy
Absorption Faster Slower
Onset of action Quick Slow
Duration of action Short Prolong
Shelf-life Shortened Longer
Stains on clothing No chance Have a chance
Wash off Easier Less easy
Example Betamethasone Valerate Cream, Zinc Acetate 0.2% cream, and Econazole Nitrate cream etc. Hydrocortisone Ointment, Bacitracin Ointment, and Lidocaine Ointment etc.

Also, you may read:

References

  1. The United States pharmacopeia (2020). The National formulary. Rockville, Md.: United States Pharmacopeial Convention, Inc.,
  2. Lachman, L., & Liebermann, H. A. (2013). The Theory and practice of industrial pharmacy. Washington Square, Philadelphia USA: Lea & Febiger.

 

Check Also

ntiseptic-vs-disinfectant

Difference between Antiseptic and Disinfectant

Antiseptic and disinfectant are biocides [1] and both are used for the same purpose but …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 × 1 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.