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Skin balm is a substance harder than a gel or lotion, but softer than a wax. It is usually translucent and slightly greasy. Most kinds of skin balm are not meant for everyday use. Instead, they’re meant to treat temporary or chronically reoccurring skin conditions. In addition to healing these ailments, most balms are also formulated to soothe the irritated area, giving the patient relief along with faster healing times. Several types of skin balms exist, including prescription, commercial, and homemade versions.
Prescription skin balms are usually recommended when a patient has a serious infection or condition. Psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, burns, and severe scars may all be treated by prescription skin balm. Many of these types of balms contain very concentrated amounts of medication and should only be used as prescribed by a doctor. Some even contain traces of silver, especially formulas made for treating irritated or blistered skin. These skin balms usually come in metal tubes with the prescription printed on the outside.
Commercial skin balm types most commonly come in the form of lip balm. These wax-based lubricants purportedly heal chapped, dry, and irritated lips. Such products contain only a mild amount of medicine, making them legal for over-the-counter sale.
Other kinds of commercial skin balm may include small tubs of soothing treatments for dry elbows, knees, feet, and hands. Generally, these types contain little to no medication at all. They only feature moisturizers in the form of oils and fatty alcohols mixed into wax. Many of these products also contain artificial colors and scents to make them more appealing to consumers. A few commercial skin balms also contain plant and herb extracts, like rosemary and neem, especially those sold in specialty shops.
Though many commercial skin balms contain herbs, and some are even organic and chemical-free, homemade balms fit this description more often. Herbalists and those interested in natural skin care products may opt to make their own skin balm, customizing it to their particular needs. These recipes usually start out with pure beeswax, a naturally soft, moisturizing product. The maker melts the wax in a double-boiler or in a microwave.
Next, the maker mixes in additives, which keep the skin balm from becoming too hard to spread over the skin. These may be softening oils or plant extracts. A few recipes also call for crumbled dry herbs. Some even like to add honey or dry, powdered milk. These homemade balms are usually used to soothe dry skin caused by winter weather.