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OINTMENTS AND CREAMS BASICS OF FORMULATION

OINTMENT BASES
Ointment bases are divided into five types and they are
oleaginous bases, absorption bases,
water-in-oil emulsion bases, oil-in-water emulsion bases
and water-miscible bases. Each type
of the ointment bases has its unique physical
characteristics and here is the summary:
Oleaginous Ointment Bases-composed of oleaginous
compounds, low water content,
hydrophobic, diffcult to be spreaded and washed, mainly
used as protectants and emollients.
Examples are white petrolatrum and white ointment.
Absorption Ointment Bases (I)-composed of oleaginous base
and a surfactant, low water
content, hydrophilic, diffcult to be spreaded and washed,
mainly used as protectants and
emollients. Examples are hydrophilic petrolatum, anhydrous
lanolin, Aquabase, Aquaphor and
Polysorb.
Water-in-oil Emulsion Ointment Bases (II)-composed of
oleaginous base, a small amount of
water and a surfactant, high water content, hydrophilic,
easy to be spreaded but difficult to be
washed, mainly used as emollients and cleansing creams.
Examples are cold creams, hydrous
lanolin, rose water ointment, Hydrocream, Eucerin and
Nivea.
Oil-in-water Emulsion Ointment Bases (III)-composed of
oleginous base, a large amount of water
and a surfactant, high water content, hydrophilic, easy be
spreaded and washed, mainly used as
emollients and drug carriers. Examples are hydrophilic
ointment, Dermabase, Velvachol and

Unibase.
Water-miscible Ointment Bases (IV)-composed of
polyethylene glycols, hydrophilic, easy be
spreaded and washed, mainly used as drug carriers.
Examples are PEG Ointment and Polybase.
PREPARATION
Oleaginous Base (White Ointment)
Composition: white wax 5% and white petrolatum 95%.
Procedure: Melt the white wax, add the petrolatum, stir
the mixture till liquefied. Stop heating, stir
the mixture till it begins to congeal.
Absorption Base
Compostion: cholesterol 3%, stearyl alcohol 3%, white wax
8% and white petrolatum 86%
Procedure: Melt the stearyl alcohol, white wax and
petrolatum together. Add the cholesterol to the
mixture, stir until completely dissolved. Stop heating,
stir the mixture till it begins to congeal.
Water-in-oil Emulsion Base (Cold Cream)
Composition: white wax 12.0%, cetyl esters wax 12.5%,
mineral oil (Sp. Gr. = 0.9) 56.0%, sodium
borate 0.5% and 19% water.
Procedure:
Melt the white wax and cetyl esters wax at
70C, add the mineral oil. Dissolve borate
in water to form borate solution, heat the solution to
70C. Add the solution to the oil mixture, stir.
Keep stirring till it hegains to congeal.
Oil-in-water Emulsion Base (Hydrophilic Ointment)
Composition: Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) 1.0%, propylene
glycol (PG; SP Gr = 1.035) 12%,
stearyl alchohol 25.0%, white petrolatum 25.0%, purified

water 37.0%
Procedure: Melt the stearyl alcohol and white petrolatum
at 70C----oil phase. Dissolve SLS and
PG in water, and heat the mixture to 70C--aqueous phase.
Add the oil phase slowly to the
aqueous phase, stir. Stop heating, stir till it begains to
congeal.
Water Miscible Base
Composition: Polyethylene glycol 400 (PEG) 60% and
polyethylene glycol 3350 (PEG 3350) 40%.
Procedure: Melt the PEGs to 65C. Stir till the mixture
congeals.
HOW TO CONVERT THESE OINTMENTS INTO DRUG CARRIERS
The way to incorporate the drug substance into the
ointment base depends on the drug solubility
in the ointment base or the phase.
Oleaginous Base
Insoluble drug: Mix the drug with a small amount of
mineral oil (levigating agent) to form a
homogenous phase. And then, mix this "wetted
powder" into the base with an amount
of ointment of approximately the same size. Then, add and
mix a second amount of ointment
approximately equal to the first mixture. Continue this
stepwise "dilution process" (or
geometric dilution) till all of the ointment has been
used.
Soluble drug: Melt the base and then add the drug to the
molten base (fusion method). Stop
heating and stir till it congeals.
Absorption Base
Methods to incorporate drugs in oleaginous base can also
be applied here. However, one more

method can be used here: dissolve water-soluble drug in a


small amount of water first and then
mix the aqueous phase with base mechanically. Heat the
mixture, if neccessary.
Water-in-oil Emulsion Base
Drug soluble in the oil phase: Levigate the drug with
mineral oil, combine it with the oil phase and
then, mix it with the aqueous phase.
Water-soluble drug: Dissolve the drug in the aqueous phsae
first. Then, combine it with the oil
phase.
Oil-in-water Emulsion Base
Water-soluble drug: Dissolve the drug in the aqueous phsae
first. Then, combine it with the oil
phase.
Drug soluble in the oil phase: Levigate the drug with
mineral oil, combine it with the oil phase and
then, mix it with the aqueous phase.
Water Miscible Base
Water-soluble drug: Dissolve the water-soluble drug in a
small amount of water and incorporate it
into
the base.
Water-insoluble drug: Levigate the insoluble powder with a
water miscible material such as
glycerin; propylene glycol or PEG 400. And then,
incorporate this mixture into the base.