Urea cream

Easy-to-read medicine information about urea cream – what it is, and how to use it safely.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Used as an emollient (moisturiser)
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as humectants



  • HealthE urea cream®
  • Urea cream®
  • AquaCare HP®
  • Nutraplus® 
  • Eulactol® 

What is urea cream?

Urea cream is a non-greasy emollient or moisturiser, used to treat dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It may also be useful to treat dry skin in older adults. Check with your pharmacist if urea cream is the right option for you.

When applied to the skin, urea causes the skin to retain moisture, which helps to reduce dryness. The urea is mixed in with a moisturising base that provides a layer of oil on the surface of the skin. This helps prevent water from evaporating from the skin surface. Both actions soothe and soften the skin. Read more about emollients and moisturisers.

Urea cream is available in different strengths over the counter at a pharmacy.

  • Urea 10% cream (such as HealthE urea cream®, AquaCare HP® and Nutraplus®) is commonly used  to moisturize moderately dry skin.
  • Urea 25% cream (Eulactol®) is used for excessively dry skin or areas of thick skin such as the heels of the foot. 

Higher strengths may be prescribed by your doctor.

How to use urea cream

  • Wash your hands before applying urea cream.
  • Apply generous amounts of urea cream on the skin several (at least 2 to 3) times a day or as required. If it has been prescribed by a doctor, follow the directions on the label.
  • It is best to apply urea cream immediately after washing, bathing or showering, while the skin is still damp.
  • Apply urea cream in a downward motion, in the direction of hair growth and gently massage into your skin. Avoid rubbing.
  • Do not put your hands into the pot, tub or jar of cream when removing for use. This will contaminate the cream. Instead, use a clean spoon or spatula to scoop out the required amount of cream and place onto a clean plate or paper towel. Some people put the cream in a clean pump bottle to reduce contamination.
  • Do not apply urea cream on weeping or broken (cracked or bleeding) skin or on any area that is infected or oozing. 

Possible side effects

Like all medicines urea cream can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Signs of sensitivity or an allergic reaction such as red, itchy skin. This may be confused with a flare-up of eczema or dermatitis
  • Tell your doctor  

Learn more

Emollients and moisturisers Dermnet NZ
Urea Dermnet NZ 
Emollients for eczema Patient Info, UK

References

  1. Emollient and barrier preparations NZ Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 08 Feb 2019