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Over-the-Counter Medicine for Kids

Pharmacology and Childhood Medications

By

Updated May 19, 2014

Woman looking at products in a pharmacy
B2M Productions/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

An increasing number of reports about injuries and deaths from over-the-counter medicine has raised awareness that these OTC products can be dangerous.

Many more over-the-counter medicines can be helpful though -- as long as you use them at the correct dosages and at the proper times.

Over-the-Counter Medicine for Pain and Fever

Pain and fever reducers are perhaps some of the more useful over-the counter medicines. These include Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Motrin or Advil (ibuprofen).

Remember that aspirin isn't usually given to children or teens because of the risk of Reye's Syndrome. Parents should also avoid medicines like Maalox, Pepto Bismol, and Kaopectate, which may contain Bismuth Subsalicylate.

Over-the-Counter Medicine for Colds and Coughs

A large variety of cold and cough medicines are available for kids, but remember that the FDA warns that they should not be used for infants and toddlers under age two years. Most manufacturers have gone even further and have stopped marketing them to children under age four and some experts wonder if they are even useful for older kids.

Major brands of over-the-counter cold and cough medicines for older children include:

  • Children's Advil
  • Delsym
  • Dimetapp
  • Little Noses
  • Children's Motrin
  • Mucinex
  • Pediacare
  • Robitussin
  • Sudafed
  • Triaminic
  • Children's Tylenol
  • Vicks

Over-the-Counter Medicine for Babies

Few products are approved for use by babies and younger infants, so only use those that are or get the advise of your pediatrician before using other products off-label that are intended for older children. Commonly used over-the-counter medicines for babies include:

  • Mylicon Infants' Gas Relief Drops
  • Gas-X Baby Antigas Infant Drops
  • Baby Orajel Teething Swabs
  • Little Teethers Oral Pain Relief Gel
  • Enfamil Fer-In-Sol Iron Supplement Drops
  • Enfamil Poly-Vi-Sol Multivitamin Supplement Drops
  • Gerber Grins & Giggles Infant Tooth & Gum Cleanser
  • Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment and other moisturizers
  • Desitin Creamy and other diaper rash creams and ointments
  • Ocean Premium Saline Nasal Spray

Over-the-Counter Medicine for Itching

Anti-itch creams and lotions are essential over-the-counter medicines to have in your medicine cabinet if your kids spend any time outside, as they will likely often have insect bites, poison ivy, and other itchy rashes.

In addition to oral Benadryl (diphenhydramine), some good choices to treat itching include:

  • Hydrocortisone cream 1%
  • Calamine Lotion
  • Natural Colloidal Oatmeal Cream or Lotion
  • Gold Bond Maximum Strength Medicated Anti-Itch Cream
  • Sarna Original Anti-Itch Lotion
  • Caladryl Clear
  • Itch-X Anti-Itch Spray
  • Domeboro Astringent Solution
  • Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Relief Gel or Spray - not to be used on large areas though or with oral Benadryl

Over-the-Counter Medicine for Rashes

In addition to anti-itch creams and lotions and moisturizers, other over-the-counter medicines for rashes you may want to have include:

  • Neosporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment
  • Polysporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment
  • Wartner Cryogenic Wart Removal System
  • CompoundW Freeze Off Wart Removal System
  • Dr. Scholl's Clear Away One Step, Salicylic Acid Wart Remover
  • Lotrimin AF Antifungal Athlete's Foot Cream - often used for ringworm too
  • Lamisil AT - for athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm
  • Tinactin Antifungal Cream - for athlete's foot and ringworm
  • Benzoyl Peroxide cream, pads, or gel - for acne

Over-the-Counter Medicine for Constipation

Preventing constipation with a healthy diet that is high in fiber is best for children, but when they do get constipated, these medicines are often helpful:

  • Miralax - Polyethylene Glycol laxative for adults, but often used off-label by pediatricians for younger children
  • Fleet Pedia-Lax Liquid Stool Softener - Docusate sodium oral laxative (2y)
  • Fleet Pedia-Lax Quick Dissolve Strips - Senna oral laxative (2y)
  • Fleet - Children's Pedia-Lax Chewable Tablets - Magnesium Hydroxide laxative (2y)
  • Phillips Milk of Magnesia
  • Fletcher's Laxative For Kids - Senna laxative (2y)

Over-the-Counter Medicine for Stomach Issues

Stomachaches, in addition to those that are caused by constipation, are a common problem for many kids. These over-the-counter medicines are sometimes useful:

  • Culturelle for Kids - probiotic supplement
  • Digestive Advantage Children's Lactose Intolerance Therapy - for children with lactose intolerance (3y)
  • Children's Pepto - a calcium carbonate antacid to help relieve heartburn in children (2y)
  • Emetrol for Nausea - may help nausea in children (2y)
  • Dramamine Chewable Formula - prevents motion sickness in children (2y)
  • Fiber Choice Sugar Free Fiber Supplement - chewable, fruit flavored fiber supplements for children (6y)

Since the cause of stomachaches are sometimes difficult to sort out, it usually best to see your pediatrician before giving your child an over-the-counter treatment on your own though.

Over-the-Counter Medicine for Allergies

Like cold and cough medicines, parents often turn to over-the-counter allergy medicines to treat their children's allergy symptoms. This is even more common now that Claritin and Zyrtec are available over the counter.

  • Children's Benadryl
  • Claritin (loratadine) syrup (2y)
  • Claritin (loratadine) RediTabs or tablets (6y)
  • Claritin D 12 hour (12y)
  • Claritin D 24 hour (12y)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) syrup (2y)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) chewable tablets or tablets (6y)
  • Zyrtec D 12 hour (12y)
  • Opcon-A Allergy Relief Eye Drops - for allergic conjunctivitis (6y)
  • Naphcon A Eye Drops - for allergic conjunctivitis (6y)
  • Zaditor Eye Itch Relief - for allergic conjunctivitis (3y)

Other Over-the-Counter Medicines

Some other over-the-counter medicines that can be useful include:

  • Reese's Pinworm Medicine - pinworm treatment (2y)
  • Neo-Synephrine Regular Strength Nasal Decongestant Spray - can temporarily relieve stuffy noses for teens
  • Ayr Saline Nasal Gel - helps moisturize dry noses and may prevent nose bleeds
  • Hibiclens Antiseptic / Antimicrobial Skin Cleanser - can be useful if your child gets recurrent skin infections
Related Video
Cold Medicine and Kids
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