The waterproofing effect of a number of creams, oils, and greases was examined by measuring water loss from adult skin before and after topical application. Creams had a high water content and were ineffective, oils produced a modest fall in water loss, but paraffin in grease form had a pronounced, sustained waterproofing effect. A paraffin mixture (80% soft, 20% hard paraffin (BP) was then applied to the skin of 3 preterm babies nursed naked in incubators. Overall skin water loss fell by 40 to 60% after application and was still lower than pretreatment levels 6 hours later. The topical application of paraffin offers a new approach to reduction of the high evaporative water and heat losses of preterm babies.
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