Urine was used as a healing agent by the Babylonians in about 800 BC and it has been used in various parts of the world ever since. If it is at all effective - and this is uncertain - urea might well be the active ingredient. Until recently the experimental and clinical use of urea on the skin was hampered by the lack of a convenient and stable preparation. It was particularly difficult to produce a satisfactory cream, for crystallisation occurs in aqueous cream and even in buffered cream, making it gritty and physically irritating. In commonly used cream bases urea slowly decomposes into ammonia and carbon dioxide. However, a commercial preparation Calmurid of 10% urea in a stabilised emulsified base is now available: it is cosmetically acceptable and has a long shelf-life. The labelling describes the active ingredient as ‘carbamide (urea)’ to minimise the distasteful associations of ‘urea’ for some patients. Calmurid is promoted primarily as a treatment for ichthyosis.
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