Skin Care

The primary function of the skin is to provide a protective shield for our internal organs, tissues, and bones. Even though it’s a powerful barrier, the skin is also vulnerable to a host of common injuries and irritations. There are different types of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines used to protect skin and treat common ailments, including skin protectants, first-aids, and anti-fungals.

OTC active ingredients in skin care products

First-Aid Antibiotics

What Are First-Aid Antibiotic Medicines For?

Even if you are an exceptionally careful individual, it is virtually impossible to avoid getting a minor skin injury from time to time. Perform an everyday task like cooking dinner or doing yard work, and you might end up with a cut, scrape, or burn. If not properly cleaned and attended to, these injuries can become a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Once these organisms enter a wound, they can cause a number of problems, such as pain, swelling, redness, itching, and oozing. If left untreated, an infection may lead to serious health concerns. First-aid antibiotic medicines are used to help prevent infection in minor skin injuries.

How First-Aid Antibiotic Medicines Work

First-aid antibiotics, like all over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, contain certain active ingredients that make them work on the human body. The product’s active ingredients, including how much of a substance is in each dose, are listed first on the Drug Facts label.

First-aid antibiotics are topical medicines available in spray, ointment, cream, and powder form.

These products should only be used on the outer surface of the body. When applied to a wound, the active ingredients in first-aid antibiotics work by killing bacteria, which prevents an infection from developing.

OTC medications in first-aid antibiotics products
  • Bacitracin
  • Bacitracin zinc
  • Neomycin sulfate
  • Polymyxin B

Some first-aid antibiotics may contain additional active ingredients to help relieve pain.

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Safe use tips for First-aid medicines

  • Always read the Drug Facts label carefully. The label tells you everything you need to know about the medicine, including the ingredients, what you are supposed to use it for, how much you should use, and when you should not use the product.
  • First-aid antibiotics should only be used on the outer body surface. Do not use these medicines in your eyes or apply to large areas of your body.
  • If you accidentally swallow a topical first-aid antibiotic medicine, immediately seek medical attention or contact the poison control national helpline at 888.222.1222.
  • Clean the affected area before use. Apply a small amount one to three times a day. Do not use the medicine for more than one week unless you are under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
  • After applying a first-aid antibiotic, a sterile bandage may be used to cover the area.
  • Stop use and contact a healthcare provider if your condition gets worse or if a rash or other allergic reaction occurs.
  • Do not use if you are allergic to any of the medicine’s ingredients.
    If you have a deep wound, animal bite, or serious burn, consult a healthcare provider.
  • Keep first-aid antibiotics and all medicines out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider before using a first-aid antibiotic on a child under the age of 2.

First-Aid Antiseptics

What Are First-Aid Antiseptic Medicines For?

Most of us consider minor skin injuries such as cuts, scrapes, and burns to be just a part of life. To the untrained eye, these simple abrasions may appear somewhat trivial. But if not kept clean, even a tiny, seemingly insignificant cut can potentially lead to a serious infection. First-aid antiseptics are medicines that are used to help reduce your chances of getting an infection from a minor skin injury.

How First-Aid Antiseptic Medicines Work

First-aid antiseptics, like all over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, contain certain active ingredients that make them work on the human body. The product’s active ingredients, including how much of a substance is in each dose, are listed first on the Drug Facts label.

First-aid antiseptics are available in topical forms like liquid solutions, sprays, medicated wipes, wet compresses, salves, lotions, ointments, creams, and powders. These medicines should only be used on the outer surface of the body. When applied directly to the affected area, first-aid antiseptics keep the surface of the injury clean and help prevent the growth of bacteria, which could lead to a possible infection.

OTC medications in First-Aid Antiseptics
  • Benzethonium chloride
  • Camphorated phenol
  • Chloroxylenol
  • Iodine
  • Povidone-iodine

First-aid antiseptics may contain additional active ingredients that treat pain and irritation.

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Safe use tips for First-aid antiseptic medicines

  • Always read the Drug Facts label carefully. The label tells you everything you need to know about the medicine, including the ingredients, what you are supposed to use it for, how much you should use, and when you should not use the product.
  • First-aid antiseptics should only be used on the outer surface of the body.
    Do not use a first-aid antiseptic in your eyes or apply to large areas of your body.
  • If you accidentally swallow the medicine, immediately seek medical attention or contact the poison control national helpline at 888.222.1222.
  • Stop use and contact a healthcare provider if your condition lasts for more than one week or gets worse.
  • If you have a deep wound, animal bite, or serious burn, consult a healthcare provider.
  • Some first-aid antiseptics may be flammable. Keep products away from an open fire or flame.
  • Keep first-aid antiseptics and all medicines out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider before using a first-aid antiseptic medicine on a child under the age of 2.

Skin Protectants

What Skin Protectant Medicines Are For

Skin protectant medicines address several common skin issues. For example, some skins protectants temporarily protect minor cuts, scrapes, or burns, while others help to relieve chapped, cracked skin or lips. There are also medicines available that soothe irritation and itching due to rashes, eczema, poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and insect bites. Certain skin protectant medicines may even help stop bleeding caused by minor surface cuts and abrasions as may occur during shaving.

How Skin Protectant Medicines Work

Skin protectants, like all over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, contain certain active ingredients that make them work on the human body. The product’s active ingredients, including how much of a substance is in each dose, are listed first on the Drug Facts label.

Skin protectant active ingredients are available in topical medicines such as bath treatments, lotions, ointments, powders, wet compresses, lip balms, and styptic pencils (short sticks of solid medication). These medicines are to be used only on the outer surface of body, including the skin and lips.

Symptoms of skin irritations may include:

  • Minor cuts, scrapes, and burns: Some skin protectant medicines contain active ingredients that protect cuts, scrapes, and burns by providing a protective barrier against external irritations that helps the skin heal faster.
  • Chapped, cracked skin or lips: Some skin protectant medicines contain active ingredients that act as an emollient, which means that they soften and moisturize dry skin and lips and help decrease flaking.
  • Rashes, insect bites, and other skin irritations: Some skin protectant medicines contain active ingredients that relieve skin itching from rashes and insect bites and help dry the oozing from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Minor bleeding due to surface cuts as may occur during shaving: Some skin protectant medicines contain active ingredients for styptic pencils that help stop bleeding from minor surface cuts, such as razor nicks. These products also seal the affected area to keep dirt and germs out.
OTC active ingredients in Skin protectant products
  • Aluminum sulfate
  • Colloidal oatmeal
  • Dimethicone
  • Petrolatum
  • White petrolatum
  • Zinc oxide

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Safe use tips for Skin protectant medicines

  • Always read the Drug Facts label carefully. The label tells you everything you need to know about the medicine, including the ingredients, what you are supposed to use it for, how much you should use, and when you should not use the product.
  • When using a skin protectant, avoid getting the medicine into your eyes.
  • Stop use and contact a healthcare provider if your condition worsens, the symptoms last for more than seven days, or if symptoms clear up and then return.
  • Do not use skin protectants on deep wounds, puncture wounds, animal bites, or serious burns.
  • When using a styptic pencil to stop minor bleeding, be sure to rinse and dry the product after each use.
  • Skin protectants are meant for external use only. In case you accidentally swallow a medicine, immediately contact your healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 888.222.1222.
  • Keep skin protectants and all medicines out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Skin protectant medicines are available in different dosage strengths. Some products have dosing instructions for infants aged 6 months and older, while others have recommendations for use in children age 2 and older. Read the Drug Facts label carefully for appropriate dosing information and contact a healthcare provider as directed.