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
Quick GuidePrescription Drug Abuse: Know The Warning Signs
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
Aches? Pain? Fever? This Cold & Flu Quiz tests your knowledge on the difference between coming down with the common cold and...
Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu
What natural remedies work for the flu and common cold? Many claim cold symptoms and flu symptoms can be relieved with Echinacea,...
Skin Health: 15 Tips for Clear Skin
Acne, pimples, zits and blemishes often appear on the face, back, chest, neck, and shoulders where skin has the most amount of...
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...
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,...
Bursitis of the hip results when the fluid-filled sac (bursa) near the hip becomes inflamed due to localized soft tissue trauma...
Burns (First Aid)
Burn types are based on their severity: first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns. First-degree burns are...
Chickenpox (chicken pox) is a contagious childhood disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Symptoms have an incubation...
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms...
Constipation (Relief, Home Remedies, Treatment Medications)
Constipation is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week....
Croup is a contagious viral infection that affects children's respiratory system. Symptoms include a barking cough, stridor,...
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...
Braces and Retainers
Find out more about how orthodontic braces and retainers can provide proper alignment to crooked teeth. Get information about the...
Earwax (ear wax) is a natural substance secreted by special glands in the skin on the outer part of the ear canal. It repels...
Eczema is a general term for many types dermatitis (skin inflammation). Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of...
Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a skin infection caused by the ringworm fungus. Symptoms include itching, burning, cracking,...
Intestinal Gas (Belching, Bloating, Flatulence)
Anal itching is the irritation of the skin at the exit of the rectum, known as the anus, accompanied by the desire to scratch....
Hemorrhoids (Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments)
Hemorrhoids (piles) are swollen veins in the rectum and anus. Causes include pregnancy, obesity, diarrhea, low-fiber diet, and...
Erectile Dysfunction (ED, Impotence)
Erectile dysfunction (ED, impotence) is the failure to achieve or maintain an erection. There are many potential underlying...
Kidney Stones (nephrolithiasis)
Kidney stones are solid masses of crystalline material that form in the kidneys. Symptoms of kidney stones can include pain,...
Acute injuries, medical conditions, and chronic use conditions are causes of knee pain. Symptoms and signs that accompany knee...
Peripheral Neuropathy (Causes, Symptoms, Treatment Medications)
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness,...
Pinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, is redness or irritation of the conjunctivae, the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids...
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac contain a substance called urushiol, which causes a rash on people who come in contact with them....
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales....
Raynaud's phenomenon is characterized by a pale-blue-red sequence of color changes of the digits, most commonly after exposure to...
Rosacea is a skin disease that causes redness of the forehead, chin, and lower half of the nose. In addition to inflammation of...
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache,...
Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease involving the abnormal production of extra antibodies that attack the glands and...
Insect Sting Allergies
The majority of stinging insects in the United States are from bees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire ants. Severity of...
Obesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are...
Diarrhea (Causes, Medicine, Remedies, Treatment)
Diarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal...
Mycobacterium marinum (M. marinum) is bacteria found in fresh and saltwater that can infect the skin through cuts or scrapes,...
Sciatica pain, caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, typically radiates from the low back to behind the thigh to below the...
Vitamins and Calcium Supplements
Vitamins are organic substances that are essential for the proper growth and functioning of the body. Calcium is a mineral...
Lactose intolerance is a common problem where a person's digestive system cannot digest lactose. Signs and symptoms include:...
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...
Head lice infection is called pediculosis. Lice are parasites that feed on blood and can be found on the scalp and hair of...
Alopecia areata is a condition that causes hair loss on the scalp and sometimes other parts of the body. It is believed to be...
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"...
Heart Attack Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management....
Menstrual cramps (pain in the belly and pelvic area) are experienced by women as a result of menses. Menstrual cramps are not the...
Jet lag (desynchonosis) is a temporary disorder that results from travel across time zones. Symptoms include anxiety,...
Sunscreens are crucial for sun protection. Sun damage to the skin from exposure to ultraviolet rays is a risk factor for skin...
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...
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...
Indigestion (Dyspepsia, Upset Stomach Pain) Symptoms, Relief Remedies, Medicine
Indigestion (dyspepsia) can be caused by diseases or conditions that involve the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and also by some...
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...
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...
Corns and calluses are sometimes painful areas of thickened skin that appear between the toes and fingers or on the soles of the...
There are many causes of scalp hair loss. This featured article covers the common ones such as patchy hair loss (alopecia areata,...
Though human milk is the preferred feeding for infants, parents may consider formula-feeding if there is an inadequate supply of...
Dandruff (seborrhea) is a skin disorder that results from neither too much moisture nor too much oil. Dandruff can be treated...
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...
Warts (Common Warts)
Common warts are skin growths causes by the human papillomavirus. There are many types of warts, including plantar warts, common...
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...
Tinea versicolor is a fungus infection that mainly affects the skin of young people. Recognized by light or reddish brown spots,...
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...
DeQuervain's tenosynovitis is inflammation of the tendon on the side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. DeQuervain's...
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...
Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating of the underarms, palms, or soles of the feet. Treatment may involve over-the-counter...
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems,...
Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the elastic middle layer of skin that allows it to retain its shape. When the skin is...
Scar formation is a natural part of the healing process after injury. The depth and size of the wound incision and the location...
Pericoronitis is inflammation of the gum tissue around the molars. Pericoronitis commonly occurs in teens or young people when...
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...
Teen Drug Abuse
Drugs commonly abused by teens include tobacco products, marijuana, cold medications, inhalants, depressants, stimulants,...
Foot pain may be caused by injuries (sprains, strains, bruises, and fractures), diseases (diabetes, Hansen disease, and gout),...
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,...
Folliculitis is a skin condition that causes small red bumps to form around the hair follicles. Skin bacteria such as...
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...
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease that causes pink painless bumps on the skin. It typically resolves in six to 12 months....
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. Acne rosacea, Staphylococcal bacteria, allergies, sensitivities to makeup or contact...
Teething in babies typically starts between 4 and 10 months of age. Symptoms and signs of cutting teeth include rash, drooling,...
A torn meniscus (knee cartilage) may be caused by suddenly stopping, sharply twisting, or deep squatting or kneeling when lifting...
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is bleeding under the eye's conjunctiva. There is usually no obvious cause for a subconjunctival...
Melasma is a patchy brown discoloration of the skin on the face. When it occurs in pregnancy, it's called chloasma. Melasma is...
Eye strain is a symptom caused by looking at something for a long time. Symptoms and signs include redness, light sensitivity,...
Shingles and Pregnancy
Becoming infected with chickenpox during pregnancy could cause birth defects in your unborn child. Likewise, shingles could also...
Moles are small skin growths that may appear flat or raised and are often tan, brown, black, reddish brown, or skin colored. They...
A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea. Infection is a common cause of corneal ulcer. Symptoms and signs of corneal ulcer...
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of the thigh and knee. Symptoms include knee pain and possible swelling. Treatment...
Knee injuries, especially meniscus tears, are common in contact sports. Symptoms and signs of a torn meniscus include knee pain,...
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...
Is Ringworm Contagious?
A fungus causes ringworm. Ringworm can be transmitted from person to person. Animals may also spread ringworm. Ringworm causes an...
Is Dandruff (Seborrhea) Contagious?
Seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) is a chronic condition in which skin on the scalp flakes and sheds. Dandruff is not contagious....
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...
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a common cause of mononucleosis (viral pharyngitis). Symptoms and signs of an EBV infection...
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...
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...
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...
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....
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Cold & Flu FAQs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Athlete's Foot: How to Prevent Athlete's Foot
- Are Hives Always Caused by an Allergy?
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Hyperhidrosis Treatment
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- What to Do in a Drug Recall
- Osteoarthritis of the Hands
- Flu: What to Do if You Get the Flu
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Are You Getting Enough Potassium?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- FDA Warns of Deaths Tied to Tainted Synthetic Pot
- New 'Superlice' Resist Most Over-the-Counter Remedies
- Common Meds and Dementia: How Strong Is the Link?
- America's Rural Elderly Face Barriers to Health Care
- Omega 3 Supplements Don't Help With Depression: Review
- Unapproved Ear Drops Targeted by FDA
- Health Food Stores Often Promote Adult-Only Supplements to Teens
- Health Tip: Taking Care of Your Aging Skin
- New Approaches to Acne Treatment
- Can E-Cigarettes Help You Quit Smoking?
- FDA Warns Against Prescription Drugs With High Levels of Acetaminophen
- Glaxo to End Payments to Prescribing Doctors
- Halloween Contact Lenses Can Be Horror Story for Eyes
- Health Highlights: Aug. 30, 2013
- FDA Sends Warnings to Makers of Illegal Diabetes Treatments
- Pediatricians Endorse New Acne Treatment Guidelines
- Boys More Prone to OTC Drug Abuse Than Girls, Study Suggests
- Teething Baby? Avoid Benzocaine, FDA Says
- FDA Panel to Consider At-Home HIV Test
- Defeating Dandruff
- Over-the-Counter Bug Bite Remedies Don't Work: Report
- Bufferin, Excedrin, NoDoz, Gas-X Recalled
- Federal Agencies Act to Remove hCG Weight Loss Products
- FDA Warns of Acetaminophen in Prescription Pain Drugs
- FDA: Popular Mouthwashes Make False Claims
- Kitchen Spoons Dole Out Dangerous Overdoses
Drugs and Treatment Resources
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.
Top Over-The-Counter Products Related Articles
AcneAcne 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.
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.
Caring for Teeth With Braces or RetainersPeople who have braces or retainers must take special care when cleaning their teeth. They must floss and brush regularly and avoid eating hard and chewy foods. It's important to wear a mouth guard when playing sports to avoid dental injuries.
Chickenpox (Varicella)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.
Cold & Flu QuizAches? Pain? Fever? This Cold & Flu Quiz tests your knowledge on the difference between coming down with the common cold and sickness from influenza virus.
Dental Care for BabiesGetting in the habit of cleaning your baby's gums after each feeding will help prevent future oral health problems, like bleeding gums and cavities. Also, it's important to be able to recognize the symptoms of teething. The symptoms include increased drooling, tender gums, rash on the cheeks, ear pulling, and placing objects in the mouth and biting down on them. Treat teething pain by massaging your child's gums, allowing your child to suck on a chilled teething ring or cold, wet cloth, or applying an over-the-counter teething ointment to numb the gums.
Dental ImplantsDental implants are replacement tooth roots that are anchored into the jawbone in order to secure and provide a foundation for replacement teeth. Implants look and feel like your own teeth, and they become permanent because they are designed to fuse with bone. Dental implants require the same care as reel teeth.
Hair Loss SlideshowLearn about hair loss in women and men. Discover hair loss causes and treatments as well as how to prevent hair loss.
Hip BursitisBursitis 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.
Low Back PainThere 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.
Natural Cold & Flu RemediesWhat natural remedies work for the flu and common cold? Many claim cold symptoms and flu symptoms can be relieved with Echinacea, zinc, neti pots, garlic, vitamin C, saltwater gargles, nasal strips, or bed rest. Find out what cold and flu treatments work the natural way, and what doesn't.
Root CanalA root canal is a dental procedure that's used to save an infected tooth. Treatment involves removing the tooth's nerve and pulp and then cleaning and sealing the tooth. Symptoms and signs that indicate a root canal is needed include toothache, discoloration, swelling, tenderness, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, and a persistent pimple on the gums. Typically, a root canal is no more painful than having a filling placed.
15 Tips for Clear SkinAcne, pimples, zits and blemishes often appear on the face, back, chest, neck, and shoulders where skin has the most amount of oil glands. Few of us are immune to breakouts, but treatments can minimize outbreaks. Follow these 15 tips for a clear complexion and skin.
Trigger Point InjectionTrigger point injection (TPI) treats knots of muscles that form when muscles don't relax. During the procedure, a needle containing anesthetic and/or corticosteroid is inserted into the trigger point. TPI may be used to treat fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, and tension headaches.