Cream or Ointment: How to Apply?

Antifungal Preparations

Start applying about 2cm from the edge of the affected area on the skin.

Apply in circular motion towards the affected area.

Steroid Preparations

Apply thoroughly and thinly on the affected area only.

Do NOT apply outside the affected area.

Do NOT apply on broken skin.

Emollients and Steroid Preparations

  1. Apply steroid preparations first.

  2. Apply emollients AFTER 15 minutes.


  • Steroids preparations are often forgotten when applied last.

  • Emulsifying ointment will form a barrier if it is applied first.

  • Application of emollients before steroids will further dilute the steroid concentration, thus making it less potent if it is applied first.

Emollients only

Apply Emulsifying Ointment after bathing followed by Aqueous Cream.

Things to take note:

Emulsifying Ointment usually will be paired with a Steroid Ointment while Aqueous Cream usually will be paired with a steroid cream.

Emulsifying Ointment will not be given together with Aqueous Cream if given together with a Steroid Preparation.

Reference: As per discussion with Dermatologist Dr. Ch'ng Chin Chwen in May 2015.
Updated: 21-Jun-2019