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The New Combination Therapy: Cosmeceuticals and Prescription Medications

Jennifer Wild, DO August 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
prescription medication

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Combining products into one cohesive skin care regimen can be a challenging task; but, when faced with a skin care regimen that includes cosmeceutical and prescription-strength products, the task can become overwhelming. Now that more and more clients are using prescription medications along with their cosmeceutical products, it is necessary for the skin care professional to have a general understanding of the more commonly prescribed topical medications and their fundamental differences. Although skin care professionals should never make prescription recommendations, knowledge of the various medications that are available and how they work within a skin care regimen will allow for a safer and more unified treatment plan.

What’s the difference?

“Cosmeceutical” is a term used to describe topical skin care products that are not drugs, but have more visible efficacy than a typical cosmetic product acquired over the counter. Cosmeceuticals are not governed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); therefore, the manufacturers of these various products cannot make any medical claims. On the contrary, any medication or drug that is physician-prescribed and regulated by the FDA is considered a prescription. The manufacturers of the drug are able to make medical claims, but must provide qualified studies showing the indications of use and possible side effects.

Simply put, prescription medications and cosmeceuticals can be used in combination; however, it is important to not overstimulate the client’s skin when doing so. This is when your knowledge of commonly prescribed medications is paramount to your client’s skin health. The chart Common Prescription Medications summarizes common oral and topical prescription medications, the type of client that might be prescribed this medication, its key ingredients and its mechanism of action.

The intellectually curious client

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