Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal.
substances of plant or animal origin used medicinally to make the skin supple. Emollients are also used to protect the skin, mucous membranes, and wounds from irritation. In addition, they are used in the preparation of ointments, pastes, liniments, suppositories, and vaginal globules, as well as of suspensions and solutions of medicinal substances insoluble in water, which are injected intramuscularly. Emollients include fats, fatty oils, and fatlike substances. Fatty oils (castor, mineral, almond) are taken internally as laxatives. Refined lard is used to improve absorption of ointments through the skin. Among the fatlike substances used in the pharmaceutical and perfume industries are lanolin (hydrous and anhydrous), spermaceti, and wax (yellow and white); these emollients are used in the preparation of ointments and as stiffeners for ointment bases.