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Information for Men

The following are medications available over-the-counter (OTC) that you might want to consider keeping handy. They fall into three categories: medications for problems specific to men; medications for minor conditions that most of us experience at some time or that some people experience from time to time and medicines to help prevent more serious conditions.

OTC medications specific to men
Fungal infection of the groin (Dhobie itch, jock itch)
Creams and paints containing anti-fungals, including clotrimazole, miconazole and terbinafine.

Minoxidil lotion stimulates re-growth of hair lost through the natural process of balding.

OTC medications for minor conditions experienced by men and women

Oral pain relief
Aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol, which also have a fever reducing (anti pyretic) effect. For more severe pain, there are combination products containing ibuprofen or paracetamol together with codeine or dihydrocodeine. Available in tablet, capsule and effervescent tablet form, all are suitable for a wide range of aches and pains including migraine, toothache, muscular aches and pains, and mild rheumatic pain.

Topical pain relief
Available as creams, ointments, sprays, mousses and gels, for sports injuries, sprains, muscular pains and mild rheumatic pain.

Combination products containing paracetamol or aspirin with antacid ingredients that make up into a drink are available for treating hangover headache and the upset stomach that often goes along with it.

Cough preparations
Available as a liquid or lozenges to stop a cough (suppressants) or loosen it (expectorants).

Sore throat medicines
Pastilles, lozenges, sprays or gargles containing a local anaesthetic, antiseptic or both. Also, a lozenge containing an anti-inflammatory.

Other cold relief products
Decongestants for blocked noses are available as sprays, drops, capsules or tablets. Combination remedies containing pain relievers and decongestants are available in various formulations, including sachets and syrups that make up into soothing drinks.

Creams, solutions and ointments for treating minor cuts, grazes and burns.

Tablets, capsules, powders and suspensions are available. Antacids, which neutralise excess acid; alginates, which prevent acid reaching the oesophagus/windpipe; H2 antagonists, which stop excess acid production in the stomach.

Antihistamines are available as tablets and nasal sprays, and nasal sprays containing anti-inflammatory corticosteroids are suitable for relief of hayfever and other allergies. Antihistamine tablets, and creams containing antihistamines or the anti-inflammatory, hydrocortisone, can be bought for skin allergies such as hives or insect bites. Eye drops containing either sodium cromoglycate or an antihistamine for itchy, sore eyes caused by allergies.

Capsules containing loperamide on its own to stop diarrhoea, or with dimeticone to stop the boating and cramping that often accompany it. Also, oral rehydration solutions to replace lost fluid and minerals lost through diarrhoea.

Fungal infections - athletes foot
Available as cream, powder or ointment containing antifungals, including clotrimazole, miconazole and terbinafine.

Cold sores
Acyclovir cream, an anti-viral to treat the infection causing the problem. Also, combinations of astringents, antiseptics and local anaesthetics in creams and paints for relief of symptoms.

Mouth ulcers
Anti-inflammatory medication is available in paste, pellet or mouth rinse forms. Also gels, paints and lozenges containing astringents, antiseptics and local anaesthetics for relief of symptoms.

Medicines to help prevent serious conditions

Heart disease
Too much cholesterol in the blood is a contributory factor to heart disease. Simvastatin, a cholesterol reducing agent that has been used successfully on prescription for several years, can now be bought in pharmacies without prescription. Before selling it, the pharmacist will make sure that you need it and that it is suitable for you. Low dose (75mg) aspirin taken regularly is used to 'thin' the blood and help prevent clotting that can lead to strokes and heart attack. It can be bought in pharmacies without prescription, but you should first check with your doctor that it is alright for you to take it.

Guidelines for everyone on self-treating safely

  • Keep all medicines in a secure place, out of sight and reach of small children and preferably where an adult can keep an eye on them eg the kitchen
  • Keep all medicines in their original container and take precautions to avoid them being affected by heat and humidity
  • Always read and follow the instructions, do not exceed the stated dose or treatment period.
  • Do not use or keep medicines past their sell-by date
  • Women who are pregnant should consult their GP before taking OTC medicines
  • Always check with your pharmacist or practice nurse before taking an OTC medicine if you are already taking any prescription or complimentary medicines

For more information on which products to buy for your medicine chest visit

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