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What is Topical Medication? 11 Most Common Types of Topical Medication

What is Topical Medication?

Topical medication can be defined as the application of medicine on the skin or mucous membranes that allow it to go into the body and bring relief to body pain and other issues in the affected part of the body. Topical medication can be used to nourish the pores and skin to protect it from harm.

What Are the Types of Topical Medications?

1. Paste:

Pastes include a mixture of various ointments and powders. Powdered medicines or ointments can be converted into pastes to prevent any aspirating dirt for the duration of application; they‘re also harder to rub it off from the skin. Zinc oxide, a diaper rash cream, is a great example of a paste that is tough to simply wipe away.

Topical medication in the form of paste can also deal with oral wounds; they stick to the mucous membranes and create a barrier that isn’t easily washed away through saliva. This is ideal while treating canker sores.

2. Ointment:

Ointments can be defined as a mixture of oily fat-based compositions that are applied directly to the skin. The main purpose of ointment is to have an occlusive effect, which means the ointment stays on top of the skin, rather than being absorbed right away. This occlusion effect offers more protection against moisture loss. Common ingredients found in ointments include petroleum and mineral oil. Example: healing ointments, fatty antiseptic ointments, etc.

3. Oil:

Oils are manufactured from fats that are liquid at room temperature and are used as additives in massage oils, for oil baths, like essential oils, peppermint oil, etc.

4. Creams:

Creams are a mixture of fats and water that can easily spread when applied to the body. As fats and water usually do not mix, an emulsifying agent is added to combine those ingredients keeping them stable.

5. Lotions:

The lotion is a thick, smooth liquid preparation with low viscosity, designed to be applied to the skin. Most formulations include oil and water with an emulsifier, like alcohol, to make the active medical substances soluble.

It is essential to note that medicated lotions aren’t like cosmetic hydrating lotions; they usually have a better water content or decrease oil content, making them more drying. Lotions are great for patients who want to treat large areas of the skin because it spread quickly and easily.

6. Gels:

Gels can be defined as a special type of water-based cream that is transparent and is made from cellulose ethers; primarily of thickeners like starch that binds water and active ingredients; all then combined with a mixture of alcohol.

Most gels include alcohol or similar ingredients that evaporate quicker than water; this makes them a bit drying, but also improves comfort by leaving no greasy or sticky coating after application. Example: Gels for relieving pain, anti-itching agents, etc.

7. Tinctures:

Tinctures are topical medicines in liquid form. They are made by dissolving or diluting dried extracts, regularly of plant material. Alcohol is generally used as a solvent. One famous example is the tincture of iodine that is used for disinfecting wounds.

8. Powders:

Powders are usually sprinkled on the surface of the affected area of the skin and are basically the same drug found in pills and capsules which are crushed in powder form. In addition to their solid active ingredient, they also can include carrier substances (which include talc). The powder has a drying effect and forms a thin film that protects the skin. For example, powders are used to treat itching or fungal infections like medicated talcum powder.

9. Shake Lotions:

Shake lotions can be defined as skincare products made from a combination of liquids and solids. Solids make up almost 50% of the product which is why they can be considered as a type of “liquid powder.” They contain very little to no fat.

Example: Person who has chickenpox and shingles, this white shake lotion with zinc is used to dry out the skin blisters. Because the liquid and powder will separate over time, you need to shake these lotions into suspension before every use.

10. Spray:

Some medicines can be applied to the skin or mucous membranes as a spray. Sprays are easy to use and give very efficient and quick relief. Sprays can be used for treating wounds, disinfection, or for decreasing swelling withinside the nasal mucous membranes, etc.

11. Patches:

Medicines that are supposed to enter the body over a specific period can be applied with the help of a patch. A patch can release a medicinal drug for a particular quantity of time. These types of medicinal patches are also called transdermal therapeutic systems.

All the above-mentioned topical medications are commercially available which may or may not be suitable for everyone. For some people, it can cause skin irritation and serious allergies.

A compounding pharmacist can make customized medication in any form you like and one which is suitable to your body. The compounding pharmacist at VIOS will consult with your doctor or dermatologist and ensure that you receive your dermatological compounding medication in a formulation that gives the best delivery method and protection to your skin.

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