4 Types of Emulsions in Pharmacy with Examples

Emulsions are bi-phasic liquid solutions.

They are used for drug delivery in medicine, cleaning of oil and greasy surfaces, storage of substances etc.

The routes of medication administration by which emulsions are given include by oral, parenteral and even few topical preparation (creams).

They are a bit advanced in terms of their stability and making.

One liquid phase is evenly spread in the other liquid phase.

The one which is large proportion is called external phase while the one which is in lower proportions is called internal phase.

The internal phase and external phase liquids are insoluble.

But they are made to mingle with each other by some surface property alteration.

The internal phase liquid is converted to small droplets with a suitable coating. This coating helps the internal phase to admix with external phase.

If the bonding layer is destroyed, the emulsions breaks up leaving two immiscible liquids.

Types of emulsions:

Emulsions are basically of two types. But due to careful mixture, they can be made into 2 more types.

The first type are called as simple emulsions. They are as

    1. W/O types emulsions
    2. O/W type of emulsions.
types of emulsions

Credit: researchgate.net

The other type are called as complex emulsions. They are again of two types as

  1. W/O/W type emulsions
  2. O/W/O type of emulsions.

W/O type of emulsions:

These emulsions are type where in water is internal phase and oil is external phase.  They can be identified by adding oil soluble dyes. If oil soluble, the dye colors the whole solution.

O/W type of emulsion:

These emulsions have oil as internal phase and water is in external phase. This emulsion can be identified by its electrical conducting nature. Since water is a good conductor, when an electrode is placed, it shows conductivity, indicating it to be external phase.

W/O/W type of emulsions: Here water comprises two layers while oil is center layer.

O/W/O type of emulsions:Here water is center most layer while oil occupies inner most and also outer most layer.

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