Moisturizing creams have beneficial effects in the treatment of dry, scaly skin, but they may induce adverse skin reactions. In a randomized double-blind study, 197 patients with atopic dermatitis were treated with one of the following: a new moisturizing cream with 20% glycerin, its cream base without glycerin as placebo, or a cream with 4% urea and 4% sodium chloride. The patients were asked to apply the cream at least once daily for 30 days. Adverse skin reactions and changes in skin dryness were assessed by the patient and a dermatologist. Adverse skin reactions such as smarting (a sharp local superficial sensation) were felt significantly less among patients using the 20% glycerin cream compared with the urea-saline cream, because 10% of the patients judged the smarting as severe or moderate when using glycerin cream, whereas 24% did so using urea-saline cream (p < 0.0006). No differences were found regarding skin reactions such as stinging, itching and dryness/irritation. The study showed equal effects on skin dryness as judged by the patients and the dermatologist. In conclusion, a glycerin containing cream appears to be a suitable alternative to urea/sodium chloride in the treatment of atopic dry skin.