Cortisone, Acne Products, Sunscreen Most Popular OTC Topicals

Published Online: Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hydrocortisone, benzoyl peroxide, and sunscreen are the 3 OTC topical medicines dermatologists most commonly prescribe, according to a study published in the February 2012 edition of Dermatology Online Journal.

The study surveyed 20 years of National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data for visits to all medical specialties in which topical OTC medications were recommended.

Topical medications included products to treat skin conditions or to treat oral, anal, and vaginal mucosa. Medicine categories included hydrocortisones, moisturizers, anti-infectives and antiseptics, acne products, analgesics and anti-itch medicines, keratolytics, soaps, shampoos and conditioners, sunscreens, and miscellaneous products. The study authors combined products with the same ingredients but different brand names into single categories.

According to the study results, patients aged 0 to 9 years had the highest percentage of OTC topical use, with patients who were older than 90 years and patients between the ages of 80 and 89 years having the second- and third -highest percentage of use.

Although hydrocortisones were the most frequently prescribed products, dermatologists recommended products in the anti-infective category of drugs most often. Products in the hydrocortisone category and acne category were recommended frequently.

As the most accessible health care providers, pharmacists often field questions from patients about topical preparations for many different indications. Beginning on page 30 of the OTC Guide, pharmacists will find the products recommended most often by their peers for a variety of conditions for which topical treatment is appropriate.

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