Patients usually visit doctors for skin conditions after using OTC topical preparations. In a study conducted on Indian housewives, it was found that after analgesics and antacids, topical agents ranked third among the most commonly utilized drugs for self-medication.
Objective: Analysing the prescribed and unprescribed (self/OTC) use of topical medications in out-patient attendees with dermatological infections.
A total of 100 doctors participated in the survey — general practitioners (61%), dermatologists (11%), internists (11%), ayurvedic doctors (5%), and others (12%).
40% of physicians stated that 10-30% or <50% patients visited them while using self-prescribed topical preparations
82% of doctors mentioned that advertisements had an influence on the use of topical agents as self-medication
The majority of doctors (87%) agreed that usually, the OTC product is an incorrect prescription for their skin condition
The most frequently used OTC products are itch guard (49%), ring guard (22%), and candid cream (18%)
According to our doctors, these OTCs are used mainly for fungal infections (46%) followed by rashes (26%)
70% mentioned that these products are usually non-prescribed, while 11% stated it is by a registered medical practitioner
When OTCs are non-prescribed, 41% are suggested by the pharmacist, 29% are self-medicated, 19% are shared products of close relatives with similar complaints, and 11% are suggested by friends
Our doctors also had some key messages for patients with dermatological conditions, stating that they should:
1. Avoid self-medication
2. Always consult a doctor/dermatologist
3. Use medications only as per a doctor’s advice
4. In the Indian scenario, the easy availability of topical preparations without a prescription from a registered doctor could be one of the reasons for self-medication or unprescribed use. Another important concern that requires attention is the regulation of direct-to-consumer advertisements of medicated topical agents.
As physicians, it is time to educate and warn the general public about the detrimental effects of self-medication and the complications that arise due to the inappropriate use of OTC products.
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