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
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,...
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....
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...
Related Disease Conditions
Hemorrhoids (piles) are swollen veins in the rectum and anus. Causes include pregnancy, obesity, diarrhea, low-fiber diet, and...
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...
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...
Bursitis of the hip results when the fluid-filled sac (bursa) near the hip becomes inflamed due to localized soft tissue trauma...
Folliculitis is a skin condition that causes small red bumps to form around the hair follicles. Skin bacteria such as...
Pericoronitis is inflammation of the gum tissue around the molars. Pericoronitis commonly occurs in teens or young people when...
Kidney Stones (nephrolithiasis)
Kidney stones are solid masses of crystalline material that form in the kidneys. Symptoms of kidney stones can include pain,...
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache,...
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,...
Teething in babies typically starts between 4 and 10 months of age. Symptoms and signs of cutting teeth include rash, drooling,...
Sciatica pain, caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, typically radiates from the low back to behind the thigh to below the...
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of the thigh and knee. Symptoms include knee pain and possible swelling. Treatment...
Jet lag (desynchonosis) is a temporary disorder that results from travel across time zones. Symptoms include anxiety,...
Obesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are...
Rosacea is a skin disease that causes redness of the forehead, chin, and lower half of the nose. In addition to inflammation of...
Eczema is a general term for many types dermatitis (skin inflammation). Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of...
Foot pain may be caused by injuries (sprains, strains, bruises, and fractures), diseases (diabetes, Hansen disease, and gout),...
Melasma is a patchy brown discoloration of the skin on the face. When it occurs in pregnancy, it's called chloasma. Melasma is...
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease that causes pink painless bumps on the skin. It typically resolves in six to 12 months....
Raynaud's phenomenon is characterized by a pale-blue-red sequence of color changes of the digits, most commonly after exposure to...
Diarrhea (Causes, Medicine, Remedies, Treatment)
Diarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal...
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....
Warts (Common Warts)
Common warts are skin growths causes by the human papillomavirus. There are many types of warts, including plantar warts, common...
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...
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,...
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 many causes of scalp hair loss. This featured article covers the common ones such as patchy hair loss (alopecia areata,...
Corns and calluses are sometimes painful areas of thickened skin that appear between the toes and fingers or on the soles of the...
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....
Acute injuries, medical conditions, and chronic use conditions are causes of knee pain. Symptoms and signs that accompany knee...
A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea. Infection is a common cause of corneal ulcer. Symptoms and signs of corneal ulcer...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Acne is a localized skin inflammation as a result of overactivity of oil glands at the base of hair follicles. This...
Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a skin infection caused by the ringworm fungus. Symptoms include itching, burning, cracking,...
A torn meniscus (knee cartilage) may be caused by suddenly stopping, sharply twisting, or deep squatting or kneeling when lifting...
Eye strain is a symptom caused by looking at something for a long time. Symptoms and signs include redness, light sensitivity,...
Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease involving the abnormal production of extra antibodies that attack the glands and...
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms...
Is Ringworm Contagious?
A fungus causes ringworm. Ringworm can be transmitted from person to person. Animals may also spread ringworm. Ringworm causes an...
Alopecia areata is a condition that causes hair loss on the scalp and sometimes other parts of the body. It is believed to be...
Moles are small skin growths that may appear flat or raised and are often tan, brown, black, reddish brown, or skin colored. They...
Pinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, is redness or irritation of the conjunctivae, the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids...
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems,...
DeQuervain's tenosynovitis is inflammation of the tendon on the side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. DeQuervain's...
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"...
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. Acne rosacea, Staphylococcal bacteria, allergies, sensitivities to makeup or contact...
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is bleeding under the eye's conjunctiva. There is usually no obvious cause for a subconjunctival...
Head lice infection is called pediculosis. Lice are parasites that feed on blood and can be found on the scalp and hair of...
Croup Sounds, Symptoms, Causes, Remedies, and Treatments
Croup is a contagious viral infection that affects children's respiratory system. Symptoms include a barking cough, stridor,...
Earwax (ear wax) is a natural substance secreted by special glands in the skin on the outer part of the ear canal. It repels...
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...
Lactose intolerance is a common problem where a person's digestive system cannot digest lactose. Signs and symptoms include:...
Erectile Dysfunction (ED, Impotence)
Erectile dysfunction (ED, impotence) is the failure to achieve or maintain an erection. There are many potential underlying...
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a common cause of mononucleosis (viral pharyngitis). Symptoms and signs of an EBV infection...
Knee injuries, especially meniscus tears, are common in contact sports. Symptoms and signs of a torn meniscus include knee pain,...
Chickenpox (chicken pox) is a contagious childhood disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Symptoms have an incubation...
Burns (First Aid)
Burn types are based on their severity: first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns. First-degree burns are...
Tinea versicolor is a fungus infection that mainly affects the skin of young people. Recognized by light or reddish brown spots,...
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...
Shingles and Pregnancy
Becoming infected with chickenpox during pregnancy could cause birth defects in your unborn child. Likewise, shingles could also...
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...
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...
Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating of the underarms, palms, or soles of the feet. Treatment may involve over-the-counter...
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...
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac contain a substance called urushiol, which causes a rash on people who come in contact with them....
Vitamins and Calcium Supplements
Vitamins are organic substances that are essential for the proper growth and functioning of the body. Calcium is a mineral...
Dandruff (seborrhea) is a skin disorder that results from neither too much moisture nor too much oil. Dandruff can be treated...
Menstrual cramps (pain in the belly and pelvic area) are experienced by women as a result of menses. Menstrual cramps are not the...
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...
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...
Teen Drug Abuse
Drugs commonly abused by teens include tobacco products, marijuana, cold medications, inhalants, depressants, stimulants,...
Mycobacterium marinum (M. marinum) is bacteria found in fresh and saltwater that can infect the skin through cuts or scrapes,...
Is Dandruff (Seborrhea) Contagious?
Seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) is a chronic condition in which skin on the scalp flakes and sheds. Dandruff is not contagious....
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...
Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the elastic middle layer of skin that allows it to retain its shape. When the skin is...
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...
Scar formation is a natural part of the healing process after injury. The depth and size of the wound incision and the location...
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...
Braces and Retainers
Find out more about how orthodontic braces and retainers can provide proper alignment to crooked teeth. Get information about the...
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....
Sunscreens are crucial for sun protection. Sun damage to the skin from exposure to ultraviolet rays is a risk factor for skin...
Though human milk is the preferred feeding for infants, parents may consider formula-feeding if there is an inadequate supply of...
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,...
Are Warts Contagious?
Human papillomaviruses cause warts, which are small growths with a rough texture. Warts may cause symptoms and signs such as...
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...
Heart Attack Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management....
Insect Sting Allergies
The majority of stinging insects in the United States are from bees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire ants. Severity of...
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?
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
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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.