Q. A mixure of urea and beeswax also known as the “Russian Formula” was used to remove the toenail of a friend of mine. It was done by a dermatologist in Lexington, KY. Have you ever heard of such an approach?
A. We learned about the Russian approach to removing infected nails many years ago. It was brought back to this country by Dr. Eugene Farber, Chairman of Dermatology at Stanford University, in 1978.
Instead of removing the nails surgically, which can be painful and increase the risk the infection, the Russians used a strong (40%) urea paste. This dissolves fungus-infected nails without damaging healthy nails.
To learn more about this approach and how to eliminate the fungus once the nail is dissolved you may be interested in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care.
We also heard from Paul who wanted to learn more about the healing properties of urea when used in a skin cream or moisturizer: “What makes urea so special”?
Urea is quite an amazing compound. This little-appreciated ingredient in some moisturizers can be exceptionally helpful.
A study in the highly regarded Journal of Investigative Dermatology (June, 2012) suggests that urea can improve barrier function and regulate gene activity in the skin to improve its antimicrobial defenses.
Urea (aka carbamide) is a natural nitrogen-containing compound made by the body. It is found mixed with other compounds in skin oils. At concentrations of around 10 percent, urea is an excellent skin protector. You’ll find urea in moisturizers such as Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 Moisturizing Cream with 20% Urea.
The makers (Redex Industries) underwrite our public radio show. Even if they didin’t we would still say that this is one of the very best moisturizers on the market! It is also highly affordable compared to some of the far more expensive skin creams that are out there. At this time of year, when we wash our hands so often, we need the extra protection that urea offers. We cannot think of a more effective ingredient in a skin cream!