Antibiotics are types of drugs that are generally safe to use by the masses, and some of them can be taken without a prescription. Such antibiotics which can be acquired even without a prescription are called over the counter antibiotics. These antibiotics are often placed on shelves in local pharmacies that are meant for easy access for patients. Also, over the counter antibiotics might be present in non-pharmacy areas such as convenience shops, grocery stalls and huge discount retailers. In the United States alone, there are around more than 80 classes of over the counter drugs ranging from pain relievers to slimming products, and some of them are over the counter antibiotics that can help get rid of bacterial infections.
Some Bacterial Infections that Over the Counter Antibiotics can Treat
There are actually a lot of conditions that over the counter antibiotics can help treat, bacterial infections being one of them. Below are some of the conditions/ailments in which over the counter antibiotics are needed:
Acne – There are lots of anti-acne over the counter antibiotics available in pharmacies, drugstores, supermarket and grocery stores. Antibiotics can be either put on top of the affected skin (topical) or they can be taken orally (within the body/systemic). Over the counter antibiotics for acne typically work by clearing one’s skin of bacteria that cause acne and reduce redness and inflammation as well. Over the counter antibiotics that are taken orally usually can cause more side effects than topical ones, but they can be useful for more severe types of acne cases. Some examples of over the counter antibiotics include tetracycline, erythromycin, trimethoprim, minocycline, and doxycycline.
Bacterial Vaginosis – Bacterial vaginosis can be successfully treated with over the counter antibiotics, so there is no need to spend a lot of money just to get rid of this embarrassing problem. The most common over the counter antibiotics for bacterial vaginosis is metronidazole, which can be taken as a tablet 2 times a day for a period of 5 to 7 days.
Acute otitis media (middle ear infection) – Over the counter antibiotics such as amoxicillin is the first choice when it comes to treating acute middle ear infections, unless the patient (a child) had gotten it within 30 days, is allergic to penicillin drugs, or has coexisting purulent conjunctivitis. The doctor has to re-evaluate the patient if the initial over the counter antibiotic treatment has not worked within 48 to 72 hours, and he has to change the medicine if needed.
Tonsillitis or pharyngitis – Over the counter antibiotics such as azithromycin can be used to help treat tonsillitis or pharyngitis in case patients are allergic or cannot take other antibiotics such as erythromycin. Azithromycin tabs must only be given to children who weigh over 45 kilos, when normal adult dosage must be used. If the child is less than 45 kilos, then other forms of azithromycin (such as a suspension or liquid) may be used to help alleviate the symptoms of tonsillitis or pharyngitis.
Keep in mind that over the counter antibiotics can only treat infections caused by bacteria, not viruses. Thus, if you have a viral infection such as a common cold, then over the counter antibiotics will not do anything for that infection.