This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol2", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
This is obtained from the fat in the head of the spermaceti whale. For use in medicine it should be of the finest quality, white, pearly, translucent, without unpleasant odour, and quite destitute of taste. it is used almost exclusively to give proper consistence to ointments and cerates, and, with lard and olive or almond oil, forms excellent protective combinations.
Ointment of Rose Water (Unguentum Aquae Rosas, U.S.), commonly called cold cream, is an officinal of the U. S. Pharmacopoeia, and an excellent preparation. it consists of rose water, almond oil, and spermaceti, with a very small proportion of white wax. There is no unctuous preparation better adapted to excoriated and irritated surfaces, especially chapped hands and lips. Persons whose hands are liable to be chapped in winter, cannot do better than, after each washing of the hands with soap and water, to rub them over thoroughly with this ointment, and then carefully wipe them off", without again introducing them into water. The skin is thus preserved sound and soft, and much vexation and inconvenience avoided. it is the plan I have adopted during my hospital duties, and always found effectual. The rose water gives a pleasant smell to the preparation. it should be frequently renewed, as, if kept, it is apt to become rancid, and unfit for use. Another method of accomplishing the same object in relation to the hands, when chapped, is every night, at bedtime, to rub them thoroughly with perfectly sweet oil or lard, to sleep with them gloved, and next morning to wash them with soap and water.
Spermaceti Cerate (Ceratum Cetacei, U. S.) is made by melting together spermaceti, white wax, and olive oil. if the ingredients are pure and sweet, it forms an excellent dressing for blisters, excoriated surfaces, wounds, and ulcers, when the object is not to make any specific impression on them, but merely to favour their healing by protecting them from the air, etc. The cerate is often also used as a vehicle for substances applied with other objects.
The British Unguentum Cetacei is essentially the same, and used for the same purposes; but almond oil is used instead of olive oil in its preparation.