Medicine is any pharmaceutical product that is prepared in order to treat diseases. Furthermore, there are medicines which are formulated in such a way that they are administered directly to the body surface such as the skin, eyes, ears, or mucous membrane. These are referred to as topical medicines. Through the years, advances in drug development have made it possible to administer a specific dosage of a drug through the skin. This is called transdermal drug delivery. This type of drug delivery may be facilitated by semi-solids like creams, gels, lotions, and ointments or even by a patch that is medicated and placed on the affected area.
Topical Medication Safety Tips
The following are safety tips that a patient needs to comply with while using topical medication:
1. Talk to a Medical Professional
Consult a qualified medical practitioner before using topical medicines. Many of these medications are over the counter and the chances of patients buying and using them without consultation are quite high. Through consultation, one will learn about the safety of the product and its possible side effects.
2. Only Apply to Affected Areas
Topical medicine should only be applied to the affected areas. Extra precaution should be taken when applying to areas that rub together, for example the armpits or between the buttocks.
Application should be done sparingly as these areas absorb more medication than other parts of the body. Eyes and the mucous membranes are very sensitive, hence unless indicated, must be avoided with these areas.
3. Clean & Sanitize
The affected area should be carefully cleaned with soap, and all traces of soap should be rinsed off and dried before application of any medicines. Hands should also be washed before and after application to avoid contamination or possible transmission of the infection.
4. Use as Directed
Follow the instructions as stated on the label. This will guide the amount to use and the duration. The amount of medicine will depend on the type of disease and the severity of the disease state. Similarly, the duration is a guide, and the patient should visually inspect the area to monitor the progress.
How to Apply Topical Medication
When applying topical medication, always follow the directions as they are outlined on the medication's label.
During application, take care to avoid coming into contact with the drug. Wearing gloves can help with this. Alternatively, some topical medications come in special, touch-free packaging that allows for the drug to be dispensed and applied without any contact.
For example, the Snapplicator™ is a portable, unit-dose package that is easy to open and compatible with liquids, creams, gels, and ointments:
5. Never Apply to Broken or Irritated Skin
Unless indicated, topical medicine should never be applied on broken or irritated skin. This is when the body tissues are exposed, and it will cause more harm than the actual healing. To reduce irritation during medication, the drug should not be rubbed in the skin, but applied gently.
6. Do Not Apply Heat
Unless indicated, the patient should not apply heat to the skin after application of any topical medicine. This will result in absorption of more drug than is recommended, and also the possibility of getting burns since the skin is already weakened.
7. Avoid PLastic Wraps
Plastic wraps should not be used to cover areas that the medicine is applied to, as this will lead to build up of heat. Bandages should also be avoided when using this form of medication.
8. Look for Signs of Irritation
The patient should watch for signs of prolonged skin irritation or blistering when using topical medications. Should this occur, the patient needs to immediately discontinue using the medication and consult a qualified medical practitioner.
Topical Drug Disposal
As with any drug, follow any disposal directions outlined on the label. As a rule of thumb, discard any remaining or expired topical drug along with its packaging in a secure place where it will remain out of the reach of children and pets.
Transdermal drug delivery systems have advantages in that they are less painful or pain free, self administered, generate less medical waste, and reduce unwanted side effects by avoiding the gastrointestinal tract and first pass metabolism.