Hydrophilic ointment is typically used for a base in skin formulations. The ointment is also used for making the final product easier to spread, according to Lawrence Schachner and Ronald Hansen, authors of "Pediatric Dermatology."


Regular ointments are fat-based mixtures that are not water-soluble and have a greasy feel. Because a hydrophilic ointment contains more water, its solubility makes it easier to apply and more washable. It is considered an oil-in-water ointment while regular ointments are water-in-oil.


Hydrophilic ointment typically consists of a hydrocarbon grease called white petrolatum, stearyl alcohol, propyl glycol emulsified in water and lauryl sulfate, according to HealthExpertAdvice.com.

Base for Other Ingredients

Hydrophilic ointment is often used as a base or vehicle for other active ingredients or drugs. Preparations range from dry-skin creams to prescription products compounded by pharmacists for other skin disorders.