The market is overflowing with skincare products. This means that as consumers it is important to be skeptical before buying into a specific product. Another thing to be skeptical about is the difference between prescription skin care products and over-the-counter skin care products. It can be difficult to know which of these options to choose when you have a particular issue with your skin that needs a solution.
Over-the-counter skin care products
Over-the-counter (OTC) products are vastly different from prescription products. Other than the fact that a doctor does not need to write a prescription for OTC products, manufacturers of OTC products do not have to follow as many rules before offering their products for sale.
The FDA, an agency of the federal government, plays a very large role in deciding which ingredients are safe to use in skin care products. FDA stands for Food and Drug Administration. They are responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy and security of human drugs, biological products, medical devices, food and cosmetics. They do this by regulating the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of products.
There are lists provided by the FDA that explain to companies offering OTC skin care products which ingredients are safe to use. As long as these companies follow the rules for which ingredients they are permitted to use and in what doses they are permitted to use, their products are allowed to be sold to the public.
Prescription skin care products
You may now be wondering what it is that makes prescription skin care products different than over-the-counter ones. Prescription products are considered to be “drugs,” because they are designed to treat a medical condition. These conditions can be anything from acne to hyperpigmentation in the skin.
One of the more obvious differences between over-the-counter and prescription products is that prescription medications can only be prescribed by a medical doctor. After a prescription is written by a medical professional, only a pharmacy can provide that product to you.
A difference between the two types of skincare is that prescription products have to satisfy many federal rules and regulations in order to be sold. Even after a prescription drug is approved by the FDA, it must pass several clinical trials before it is ever sold for patient use. It’s expensive to do such a large amount of testing which contributes to the high price tags on prescription drugs. The production and testing process of a drug can take years. All of this happens before even a single prescription can be written for the drug. All of the rules above actually go for most, if not all prescription drugs that are sold, not just skin care products.
Are the ingredients in prescription products better?
Because prescription products must go through so much testing before being allowed to be sold, they usually contain stronger ingredients. Not only are the products stronger, they usually contain ingredients that are not yet FDA approved to be sold OTC.
Another major benefit of using a prescription product actually has nothing to do with the product at all. If you have a prescription for a medical skin care product that means that your skin condition was diagnosed by a trained medical professional. A doctor prescribing a product is aware of the results from the medication’s testing. They know what the active ingredients are and how those ingredients will react with the skin condition that you have. This means that the product you are using is perfectly fit for the condition you have. You have a pretty high chance of seeing positive results if this is the case.
The healthcare market is changing
WIth the constant technological advances, the healthcare in our country has had to change. Self-diagnosis is now a very common thing to do. Many people do not take the time to go see a physician anymore. Instead, people are heading online, typing in their symptoms and figuring out their problem without ever leaving home. With this new way of diagnosis, comes new ways to heal conditions, especially skin conditions. Once a self-diagnosis has been made it can be quite easy to also find information on an appropriate OTC product to try.
The amount of freedom that comes along with this process really hits home with a lot of people. More and more safety studies and trials are being done every year. This means that more products are being deemed appropriate for use without prescriptions written by doctors. For instance, many of the best acne treatments are now able to be offered OTC, such as benzoyl peroxide. It is readily available, affordable and comes is a variety of easy to use forms.
When choosing an OTC product, be sure to read the product’s labeling. It can also be extremely helpful to read online reviews about these products. It may be pleasantly surprising to people who are accustomed to using prescription skin care products just how effectively OTC products are able to work now.