With all the choices of over-the-counter (OTC) products available in the marketplace, it is increasingly difficult to select the proper product(s) for you and your family.
To help you in your decision-making process, the MedicineNet.com Doctors and Pharmacists have provided an easy-to-follow format to help you understand which products may work better for specific conditions and how to choose the products that are most appropriate for your needs.
We recommend the following as an excellent resource when you are uncertain of how the ingredients in common over-the-counter remedies may affect the symptoms you want to treat.
- Acne Home Care
- Pain and Fever Medicines
- Athlete's Foot
- Birth Control
- Diabetic Home Care and Monitoring
- Drug Interactions
- Dyspepsia and Heartburn
- Ear Wax
- External Otitis
- Eye Care
- Gas, Flatulence and Bloating
- Hair Loss
- Hemorrhoids and Anal Itching
- Infant Formulas
- Insect Stings and Bites
- Lactose Intolerance
- Laxatives for Constipation
- Menstrual Cramps and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Pain Management Over-The-Counter
- Quitting Smoking
- Sleep Aids and Stimulants
- Sun Protection & Sunscreens
- Weight Loss and Maintenance
- Yeast Vaginitis
- Vitamins and Calcium Supplements
OTC drugs are available without a prescription, simply "over the counter." Find an easy-to-follow format to help you understand which products may work better for specific conditions and how to choose the products that are most appropriate.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Cold & Flu Quiz: Influenza vs. Common Cold
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Skin Health: 15 Tips for Clear Skin
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Hair Loss: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention
Learn about hair loss in women and men. Discover hair loss causes and treatments as well as how to prevent hair loss.
Related Disease Conditions
Acne is a localized skin inflammation as a result of overactivity of oil glands at the base of hair follicles. This inflammation, depending on its location, can take the form of a superficial pustule (contains pus), a pimple, a deeper cyst, congested pores, whiteheads, or blackheads. Treatments vary depending on the severity of the acne.
Lower Back Pain
There are many causes of back pain. Pain in the low back can relate to the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, internal organs of the pelvis and abdomen, and the skin covering the lumbar area.
Bursitis of the hip results when the fluid-filled sac (bursa) near the hip becomes inflamed due to localized soft tissue trauma or strain. Symptoms include stiffness and pain around the hip joint. If the hip bursa is not infected, hip bursitis can be treated with ice compresses, rest, and anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
Burns (First Aid)
Burn types are based on their severity: first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns. First-degree burns are similar to a painful sunburn. The damage is more severe with second-degree burns, leading to blistering and more intense pain. The skin turns white and loses sensation with third-degree burns. Burn treatment depends upon the burn location, total burn area, and intensity of the burn.
Chickenpox (chicken pox) is a contagious childhood disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Symptoms have an incubation period of 14 to 16 days and include a couple days of mild fever, weakness, and red, raised rash that progresses to blisters that eventually burst and crust over. Complications include bacterial infection of the open sores, scarring, encephalitis, nerve palsies, and Reye's syndrome.
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, headache, cough, sore throat, and maybe a fever. Antibiotics have no effect upon the common cold, and there is no evidence that zinc and vitamin C are effective treatments.
Constipation is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week. Constipation usually is caused by the slow movement of stool through the colon. There are many causes of constipation including medications, poor bowel habits, low fiber diets, laxative abuse, and hormonal disorders, and diseases primarily of other parts of the body that also affect the colon.
Croup is a contagious viral infection that affects children's respiratory system. Symptoms include a barking cough, stridor, fever and difficulty breathing. Treatment my incorporate the use of a humidifier, saline nasal spray, and pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS)
Interstitial cystitis (IC)/painful bladder syndrome (PBS) is an inflammatory disease of the bladder that can cause ulceration and bleeding of the bladder's lining and can lead to scarring and stiffening of the bladder. Symptoms of interstitial cystitis may vary among individuals and may even vary with time in the same individual.
Braces and Retainers
Find out more about how orthodontic braces and retainers can provide proper alignment to crooked teeth. Get information about the cost of braces, the different types of braces, and the procedure for fitting a patient with braces.
Earwax (ear wax) is a natural substance secreted by special glands in the skin on the outer part of the ear canal. It repels water, and traps dust and sand particles. Usually a small amount of wax accumulates, dries up, and then falls out of the ear canal carrying with it unwanted particles. Under ideal circumstances, you should never have to clean your ear canals. The absence of ear wax may result in dry, itchy ears, and even infection. Ear wax may accumulate in the ear for a variety of reasons including; narrowing of the ear canal, production of less ear wax due to aging, or an overproduction of ear wax in response to trauma or blockage within the ear canal.
Eczema is a general term for many types dermatitis (skin inflammation). Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema. Other types of eczema include: contact eczema, allergic contact eczema, seborrheic eczema, nummular eczema, stasis dermatitis, and dyshidrotic eczema.
Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a skin infection caused by the ringworm fungus. Symptoms include itching, burning, cracking, peeling, and bleeding feet. Treatment involves keeping the feet dry and clean, wearing shoes that can breathe, and using medicated powders to keep your feet dry.
Intestinal Gas (Belching, Bloating, Flatulence)
Gas (intestinal gas) means different things to different people. Everyone has gas and eliminates it by belching, burping, or farting (flatulence). Bloating or abdominal distension is a subjective feeling that the stomach is larger or fuller than normal. Belching or burping occurs when gas is expelled from the stomach out through the mouth. Flatulence or farting occurs when intestinal gas is passed from the anus. Causes of belching or burping include drinking too rapidly, anxiety, carbonated drinks, habit, and swallowing air. Learn about causes of intestinal gas, foods that cause gas and bloating, treatments that reduce excessive gas and soothe gas pain, and much more.
Hemorrhoids (piles) are swollen veins in the rectum and anus. Causes include pregnancy, obesity, diarrhea, low-fiber diet, and prolonged sitting on the toilet. Treatment varies depending upon the severity of the hemorrhoids. Some treatment options include over-the-counter creams and suppositories, stool softeners, warm sitz baths, and hemorrhoidectomies.
Erectile Dysfunction (ED, Impotence)
Erectile dysfunction (ED, impotence) is the failure to achieve or maintain an erection. There are many potential underlying causes of erectile dysfunction, including stress and emotional problems, brain dysfunction, problems with blood supply to the penis, and structural problems with the penis. Erectile dysfunction is diagnosed by taking the patient's history and physical exam. Blood tests measuring kidney function and blood sugar, cholesterol, hormone, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels may be ordered. Urinalysis, ultrasound, and other more sophisticated tests may be required. The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on the underlying cause. Medications, penile injections, penile implants, and vacuum devices may be used. Treatment for erectile dysfunction is usually successful. The patient should manage heart disease risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes) as they are related to erectile dysfunction risk.
Kidney Stones (nephrolithiasis)
Kidney stones are solid masses of crystalline material that form in the kidneys. Symptoms of kidney stones can include pain, nausea, vomiting, and even fever and chills. Kidney stones are diagnosed via CT scans and specialized X-rays. Treatment of kidney stones involves drinking lots of fluids and taking over-the-counter pain medications to medical intervention including prescription medications, lithotripsy, and sometimes even surgery.
Acute injuries, medical conditions, and chronic use conditions are causes of knee pain. Symptoms and signs that accompany knee pain include redness, swelling, difficulty walking, and locking of the knee. To diagnose knee pain, a physician will perform a physical exam and also may order X-rays, arthrocentesis, blood tests, or a CT scan or MRI. Treatment of knee pain depends upon the cause of the pain.
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes. Possible causes may include carpel tunnel syndrome, shingles, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, and illnesses like diabetes, syphilis, AIDS, and kidney failure. Peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed with exams and tests. Treatment for the condition depends on the cause. Usually, the prognosis for peripheral neuropathy is good if the cause can be successfully treated or prevented.
Pinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, is redness or irritation of the conjunctivae, the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids and the membranes covering the whites of the eyes. These membranes react to a wide range of bacteria, viruses, allergy-provoking agents, irritants, and toxic agents.
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac contain a substance called urushiol, which causes a rash on people who come in contact with them. Symptoms and signs include a red, swollen, itchy, blistering, bumpy rash. Treatment involves rinsing the exposed area with water, taking antihistamines and over-the-counter pain medications, using topical treatments such as calamine lotion, and applying cool compresses.
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales. There are several types of psoriasis, including psoriasis vulgaris, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, and pustular psoriasis. Symptoms vary depending on the type of psoriasis the patient has. Treatment of psoriasis may include creams, lotions, oral medications, injections and infusions of biologics, and light therapy. There is no cure for psoriasis.
Raynaud's phenomenon is characterized by a pale-blue-red sequence of color changes of the digits, most commonly after exposure to cold. Occurring as a result of spasm of blood vessels, the cause is unknown. Symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon depend on the severity, frequency, and duration of the blood vessel spasm. Treatments include protection of the digits, medications, and avoiding emotional stresses, smoking, cold temperature, and tools that vibrate the hands.
Rosacea is a skin disease that causes redness of the forehead, chin, and lower half of the nose. In addition to inflammation of the facial skin, symptoms include dilation of the blood vessels and pimples (acne rosacea) in the middle third of the face. Oral and topical antibiotics are treatments for rosacea. If left untreated, rhinophyma (a disfiguring nose condition) may result.
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and body aches. Treatment focuses on pain management and shortening the duration of the illness with antiviral medications.
Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease involving the abnormal production of extra antibodies that attack the glands and connective tissue. Sjögren's syndrome with gland inflammation (resulting dry eyes and mouth, etc.) that is not associated with another connective tissue disease is referred to as primary Sjögren's syndrome. Sjögren's syndrome that is also associated with a connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or scleroderma, is referred to as secondary Sjögren's syndrome. Though there is no cure for Sjögren's syndrome, the symptoms may be treated by using lubricating eye ointments, drinking plenty of water, humidifying the air, and using glycerin swabs. Medications are also available to treat dry eye and dry mouth.
Insect Sting Allergies
The majority of stinging insects in the United States are from bees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire ants. Severity of reactions to stings varies greatly. Avoidance and prompt treatment are essential. In selected cases, allergy injection therapy is highly effective.
Obesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20% over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build.
Diarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal pain, and the sensation of rectal urgency. Causes of diarrhea include viral, bacterial, or parasite infection, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and drugs. Absorbents and anti-motility medications are used to treat diarrhea.
Mycobacterium marinum (M. marinum) is bacteria found in fresh and saltwater that can infect the skin through cuts or scrapes, causing granulomas to appear on the skin near the site of infection. This infection may be treated with a long course of oral antibiotics.
Sciatica pain, caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, typically radiates from the low back to behind the thigh to below the knee. Disc herniation is usually the cause of sciatica. Medication to alleviate pain, physical therapy, and bed rest are treatments for sciatica.
Vitamins and Calcium Supplements
Vitamins are organic substances that are essential for the proper growth and functioning of the body. Calcium is a mineral essential for healthy bones and is also important for muscle contraction, heart action, and normal blood clotting.
Lactose intolerance is a common problem where a person's digestive system cannot digest lactose. Signs and symptoms include: Diarrhea Gas Abdominal pain Abdominal bloating Abdominal distention (swelling) Nausea There are several tests to diagnose lactose intolerance. Treatment is generally made with dietary changes, supplements, and adaptation to small amounts of milk.
Vaginal Yeast Infection (in Women and Men)
Vaginal yeast infections in women are caused by an organism called Candida albicans. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include vaginal pain with urination, vaginal discharge, odor, and itching. Treatment is generally OTC medications. A man can contract a yeast infection from his female sexual partner. Symptoms of a yeast infection in men include penile itching. Treatment is with oral or topical medication.
Head lice infection is called pediculosis. Lice are parasites that feed on blood and can be found on the scalp and hair of infected people. Signs and symptoms of head lice infestation include a tickling sensation, itching, and sores on the head. Head lice may be eliminated with various over-the-counter shampoos and washing all clothing and bed linens in the hot water cycle. Combs and brushes should be disinfected, and the floor and furniture should be vacuumed.
Alopecia areata is a condition that causes hair loss on the scalp and sometimes other parts of the body. It is believed to be caused by an abnormality of the immune system that causes the body's immune system to attack the hair follicles. Typically, hair regrows within a year without treatment. Steroid injections, creams, and shampoos may be used during treatment.
Cold Sores (Nongenital Herpes Simplex Infections)
Herpes simplex infections are common and when they appear around the mouth and lips, people often refer to them as "cold sores" and "fever blisters." Canker sores are different than cold sores. Air droplets can spread the virus, as can direct contact with the fluid from the blisters. Cold sore treatment include over-the-counter medication, as well as prescription medications.
Heart Attack Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management. Symptoms of heart attack in men and women include chest discomfort and pain in the shoulder, neck, jaw, stomach, or back. Women experience the same symptoms as men; however, they also may experience: Extreme fatigue Pain in the upper abdomen Dizziness Fainting Leading a healthy lifestyle with a heart healthy low-fat diet, and exercise can help prevent heart disease and heart attack.
Menstrual cramps (pain in the belly and pelvic area) are experienced by women as a result of menses. Menstrual cramps are not the same as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Menstrual cramps are common, and may be accompanied by headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea. Severity of menstrual cramp pain varies from woman to woman. Treatment includes OTC or prescription pain relief medication.
Jet lag (desynchonosis) is a temporary disorder that results from travel across time zones. Symptoms include anxiety, constipation, headache, nausea, dehydration, diarrhea, confusion, sweating, irritability, and even memory loss.
Sunscreens are crucial for sun protection. Sun damage to the skin from exposure to ultraviolet rays is a risk factor for skin cancer and melanoma. To avoid sunburn, people should limit sun exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., wear protective clothing, and use a sunscreen. People with sensitive skin should use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.
Tips for Managing Type 1 and 2 Diabetes at Home
Managing your diabetes is a full time commitment. The goal of diabetic therapy is to control blood glucose levels and prevent the complications of diabetes. Information about exercise, diet, and medication will help you manage your diabetes better. Blood glucose reagent strips, blood glucose meters, urine glucose tests, tests for urinary ketones, continuous glucose sensors, and Hemoglobin A1C testing information will enable you to mange your diabetes at home successfully.
Birth Control Options (Types and Side Effects)
Birth control is available in a variety of methods and types. The method of birth control varies from person to person, and their preferences to either become pregnant or not. Examples of barrier methods include barrier methods (sponge, spermicides, condoms), hormonal methods (pill, patch), surgical sterilization (tubal ligation, vasectomy), natural methods, and the morning after pill. Side effects and risks of each birth control option should be reviewed prior to using any birth control method.
Indigestion (Dyspepsia, Upset Stomach Pain)
Indigestion (dyspepsia) can be caused by diseases or conditions that involve the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and also by some diseases and conditions that do not involve the GI tract. Indigestion can be a chronic condition in which the symptoms fluctuate in frequency and intensity. Signs and symptoms that accompany indigestion include pain in the chest, upper abdominal pain, belching, nausea, bloating, abdominal distention, feeling full after eating only a small portion of food, and rarely, vomiting.
Asthma: Over the Counter Treatment
Patients who have infrequent, mild bouts of asthma attacks may use over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat their asthma symptoms. OTC asthma medicines are limited to epinephrine and ephedrine. These OTC drugs are best used with the guidance of a physician, as there may be side effects and the drugs may not be very effective.
Cold, Flu, Allergy Treatments
Before treating a cold, the flu, or allergies with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, it's important to know what's causing the symptoms, which symptoms one wishes to relieve, and the active ingredients in the OTC product. Taking products that only contain the medications needed for relieving your symptoms prevents ingestion of unnecessary medications and reduces the chances of side effects.
Corns and calluses are sometimes painful areas of thickened skin that appear between the toes and fingers or on the soles of the feet. Abnormal foot anatomy, ill-fitting footwear, and unusual gait can put increased pressure in specific areas, causing corns and calluses. Treatment may involve using over-the-counter salicylic-acid products, visiting a podiatrist to be fitted with an orthotic device, or surgical removal.
Hair Loss (Alopecia)
There are many causes of scalp hair loss. This featured article covers the common ones such as patchy hair loss (alopecia areata, trichotillomania, and tinea capitis), telogen effluvium, and androgenetic alopecia (male-pattern baldness, female-pattern baldness).
Though human milk is the preferred feeding for infants, parents may consider formula-feeding if there is an inadequate supply of breast milk, the baby sucks inefficiently, the parents want to monitor how much the baby is receiving, or the mother is taking medications that are unsafe for the baby and may be passed through the breast milk.
Dandruff (seborrhea) is a skin disorder that results from neither too much moisture nor too much oil. Dandruff can be treated with shampoos that contain tar, salicylic acid, zinc, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole.
Insomnia Treatment (Sleep Aids and Stimulants)
Insomnia is difficulty in falling or staying asleep, the absence of restful sleep, or poor quality of sleep. Insomnia is a symptom and not a disease. The most common causes of insomnia are medications, psychological conditions, environmental changes and stressful events. Treatments may include non-drug treatments, over-the-counter medicines, and/or prescription medications.
Warts (Common Warts)
Common warts are skin growths causes by the human papillomavirus. There are many types of warts, including plantar warts, common hand warts, warts under the nails, mosaic wars, and flat warts. Over-the-counter treatments typically involve the use of salicylic acid products.
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or "passive smoke" also harm family members, coworkers, and others around smokers. There are a number of techniques available to assist people who want to quit smoking.
Tinea versicolor is a fungus infection that mainly affects the skin of young people. Recognized by light or reddish brown spots, and areas lighter than the surrounding skin. Tinea versicolor is caused by yeast actually found in our skin. Factors like heat, humidity, and sweat help it proliferate in people, resulting in a rash that is not contagious to others.
Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching to include: infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
DeQuervain's tenosynovitis is inflammation of the tendon on the side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. DeQuervain's tenosynovitis can be caused by a simple strain injury to the extensor pollicus longus tendon. Typical causes include stresses such as lifting heavy grocery bags by the loops, and up lifting gardening pots. Treatment for DeQuervain's tenosynovitis includes any combination of rest, ice, antiinflammatory medication, and/or cortisone injections.
Sprains and Strains
An injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating of the underarms, palms, or soles of the feet. Treatment may involve over-the-counter antiperspirants, prescription antiperspirants, iontophoresis, medications, surgery, and Botox.
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the elastic middle layer of skin that allows it to retain its shape. When the skin is constantly stretched, the dermis can break down, leaving behind stretch marks.
Scar formation is a natural part of the healing process after injury. The depth and size of the wound incision and the location of the injury impact the scar's characteristics, but your age, heredity and even sex or ethnicity will affect how your skin reacts.
Pericoronitis is inflammation of the gum tissue around the molars. Pericoronitis commonly occurs in teens or young people when the wisdom teeth erupt. Symptoms include pain, swelling, swollen lymph nodes, and difficulty opening the mouth. Pericoronitis can be diagnosed by a dentist and is treated with pain medication. Severe cases may be treated with surgery.
Sty (Definition, Causes, Pictures, and Treatment)
A sty is a bump that forms on the eyelid as a result of a blocked gland. Styes may be caused by infections, burns, or trauma to the eyelid. Most styes resolve on their own. The application of warm compresses can speed healing. In some cases, steroid injection or incision and drainage may be necessary. Keeping the area clean and consuming a diet high in omega-3-fatty acids may help prevent the formation of styes.
Teen Drug Abuse
Drugs commonly abused by teens include tobacco products, marijuana, cold medications, inhalants, depressants, stimulants, narcotics, hallucinogens, PCP, ketamine, Ecstasy, and anabolic steroids. Some of the symptoms and warning signs of teen drug abuse include reddened whites of eyes, paranoia, sleepiness, excessive happiness, seizures, memory loss, increased appetite, discolored fingertips, lips or teeth, and irritability. Treatment of drug addiction may involve a combination of medication, individual, and familial interventions.
Foot pain may be caused by injuries (sprains, strains, bruises, and fractures), diseases (diabetes, Hansen disease, and gout), viruses, fungi, and bacteria (plantar warts and athlete's foot), or even ingrown toenails. Pain and tenderness may be accompanied by joint looseness, swelling, weakness, discoloration, and loss of function. Minor foot pain can usually be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation and OTC medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Severe pain should be treated by a medical professional.
Bug Bites and Stings
Bug bites and stings have been known to transmit insect-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease. Though most reactions to insect bites and stings are mild, some reactions may be life-threatening. Preventing bug bites and stings with insect repellant, wearing the proper protective attire, and not wearing heavily scented perfumes when in grassy, wooded, and brushy areas is key.
Folliculitis (Symptoms, Causes, Transmission, Home Treatment, and Cure)
Folliculitis is a skin condition that causes small red bumps to form around the hair follicles. Skin bacteria such as Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas may infect the follicles. Treatment involves over-the-counter bacterial washes, topical antibiotics, and/or topical steroids.
Jock itch is an itchy red rash that appears in the groin area. The rash may be caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. People with diabetes and those who are obese are more susceptible to developing jock itch. Antifungal shampoos, creams, and pills may be needed to treat fungal jock itch. Bacterial jock itch may be treated with antibacterial soaps and topical and oral antibiotics.
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease that causes pink painless bumps on the skin. It typically resolves in 6 to 12 months. Cryotherapy, laser therapy, and curettage may also treat the nodules of molluscum contagiosum.
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. Acne rosacea, staphylococcal bacteria, allergies, sensitivities to makeup or contact lens solutions, head lice, or other conditions may cause blepharitis. Symptoms and signs include itchy eyelids, burning sensation in the eyes, crusting of the eyelids, light sensitivity, red, swollen eyelids, loss of eyelashes, and dandruff of the lashes and eyebrows. Proper eyelid hygiene and a regular cleaning routine controls blepharitis.
Teething in babies typically starts between 4 and 10 months of age. Symptoms and signs of cutting teeth include rash, drooling, decreased sleeping, fussiness, bringing the hands to the mouth, and rubbing the cheek or ear. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen may be used to treat teething pain. Do not give aspirin to babies or children due to a condition called Reye's syndrome, which can be deadly.
A torn meniscus (knee cartilage) may be caused by suddenly stopping, sharply twisting, or deep squatting or kneeling when lifting heavy weight. Symptoms of a meniscal tear include pain with running or walking long distances, popping when climbing stairs, a giving way sensation, locking, or swelling. Treatment depends upon the severity, location, and underlying disease of the knee joint.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is bleeding under the eye's conjunctiva. There is usually no obvious cause for a subconjunctival hemorrhage, but it may be caused by sneezing, vomiting, infections on the outside of the eye, coughing, and clotting disorders. Symptoms and signs include blood in the white of the eye and a sense of fullness under the lid. No treatment is needed.
Melasma is a patchy brown discoloration of the skin on the face. When it occurs in pregnancy, it's called chloasma. Melasma is commonly treated with hydroquinone creams.
Eye strain is a symptom caused by looking at something for a long time. Symptoms and signs include redness, light sensitivity, headaches, and blurred vision. Symptoms may be treated by closing the eyes and taking a break from the visual task.
Shingles and Pregnancy
Becoming infected with chickenpox during pregnancy could cause birth defects in your unborn child. Likewise, shingles could also cause problems for your unborn child. If you are pregnant and haven't had chickenpox, avoid exposure to infected people. Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, can reduce the incidence of shingles by half. Women should wait at least three months after receiving the vaccine before trying to get pregnant.
Moles are small skin growths that may appear flat or raised and are often tan, brown, black, reddish brown, or skin colored. They are typically about the size of a pencil eraser. There are three types of moles. Monthly skin self-exams are essential in the early detection of abnormal moles and melanomas.
A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea. Infection is a common cause of corneal ulcer. Symptoms and signs of corneal ulcer include redness, eye pain and discharge, blurred vision, photophobia, and a gray or white spot on the cornea. Treatment depends upon the cause of the corneal ulcer.
Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of the thigh and knee. Symptoms include knee pain and possible swelling. Treatment may involve anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, ultrasound, massage, using a foam roller at the site of pain, and the use of orthotics.
Knee injuries, especially meniscus tears, are common in contact sports. Symptoms and signs of a torn meniscus include knee pain, swelling, a popping sound, and difficulty bending the leg. Treatment may involve resting, icing, compressing, and elevating the knee, in addition to wearing a knee brace, taking anti-inflammatory medications, and stretching the knee.
Scalp Psoriasis (Psoriasis of the Scalp)
Scalp psoriasis causes red, raised, scaly patches that may extend from the scalp to the forehead and the back of the neck and ears. Symptoms and signs include itching, hair loss, flaking, silvery scales, and red plaques. Treatment includes topical medicated shampoos, creams, gels, oils, ointments, and soaps, medications, and light therapy.
Is Ringworm Contagious?
A fungus causes ringworm. Ringworm can be transmitted from person to person. Animals may also spread ringworm. Ringworm causes an itchy, ring-shaped red rash with hair loss. Treatment incorporates the use of topical medication.
Is Dandruff (Seborrhea) Contagious?
Seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) is a chronic condition in which skin on the scalp flakes and sheds. Dandruff is not contagious. Sunlight exposure and stress reduction can improve the symptoms and signs of dandruff.
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is one of four ligaments that stabilize the knee. MCL injuries are referred to as tears or sprains. Sprains are graded from 1-3 based on the severity of the injury. Symptoms and signs of MCL injuries include swelling, pain, stiffness, and limping. Treatment of MCL injuries may involve resting and bracing the affected knee, and physical therapy can help to restore the range of motion.
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a common cause of mononucleosis (viral pharyngitis). Symptoms and signs of an EBV infection include swollen lymph nodes, fever, rash, sore throat, malaise, and a swollen liver and/or spleen. Treatment focuses on reducing the severity of the symptoms and signs. There is no vaccine to prevent EBV infections.
Zika Virus (Zika Fever)
The Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Symptoms and signs of a Zika virus infection include conjunctivitis, headache, joint pain, fever, rash, and muscle aches. Treatment for Zika virus infections aims to alleviate symptoms.
Head Lice vs. Dandruff
Dandruff is a condition that causes dry flakes on the scalp. Lice are parasites. Head lice infestations are very contagious. Both head lice and dandruff have similar signs and symptoms: scalp itching and tiny white material on the hair shafts. Lice treatment involves the application of over-the-counter shampoos that contain permethin or pyrethrin followed by nit and louse removal with a fine-toothed comb. Dandruff treatment incorporates the use of anti-dandruff shampoo.
Pimple vs. Cold Sore
Pimples are areas of skin inflammation with pus in the center. Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters. Pimples are caused by bacterial overgrowth and inflammation. Cold sores are caused by infection with herpes simplex viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2). Benzoyl peroxide and sometimes antibiotics treat acne. Antiviral medications accelerate the healing process of oral herpes.
Dandruff vs. Dry Scalp
Dandruff is a condition characterized by small white flakes that shed from the scalp. Dry scalp is simply dry skin on one's head. Dry scalp is uncommon, and dandruff is very common. Dandruff treatment and prevention incorporates the regular use of an anti-dandruff shampoo.
Are Warts Contagious?
Human papillomaviruses cause warts, which are small growths with a rough texture. Warts may cause symptoms and signs such as pain, itching, bleeding, and discomfort depending upon their location. Salicylic acide may effectively treat some warts.
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.