OTC SKIN CARE
centers. For example, the Icy Hot Smart Relief Knee & Shoulder
TENS Therapy, which blocks the body’s pain signals by sending
gentle electrical pulses along the nerve to intercept the signals
before they reach the brain, providing relief that can last for
hours, according to Chattem.
It costs $35 and is sold in major food and drugstore outposts
including Walmart, Target, Walgreen’s, CVS, Rite Aid, Safeway
Health care company NeuroMetrix, Inc. has a wearable pain
reliever called Quell, which harnesses neurostimulation technology to fight pain 24 hours a day, including while users sleep. This
100% drug-free wearable has received 510(k) clearance from
the US FDA, which allows the unit to be controlled directly via
a smartphone app—providing an unprecedented level of convenience and comfort, according to NeuroMetrix, Inc, which is rolling out an updated version of the product this month.
“What makes this different from other OTC TENS devices
is the power of precision and personalization,” Frank McGillin,
senior vice president and general manager, consumer health at
NeuroMetrix, told Happi.
Quell is five times more powerful than average OTC TENS
devices and through a special calibration process, it can identify
the exact dosage that a user needs, he said.
“Pain is complex and it manifests differently with everyone,”
noted McGillin, who said that topical pain relief lotions can be
effective for sore muscles following an over zealous workout, but
for those with chronic pain such as sciatica or arthritis, a“localized
cream isn’t going to be enough. At the end of the day, the creams
mask pain at a location. We are blocking pain in the system.”
Another point of departure is where it is worn; Quell is placed
on the calf—no matter where the pain is—unlike other TENS
According to McGilin, the calf has a dense cluster of sensory
nerves and offers a“relatively discreet” location.
Quell can be purchased online at Quellrelief.com and Amazon
and in select health care offices; major chains are expected to carry the device later this year, according to the company.
Some Supervision Required
Consumers often“play doctor” with their own medical issues, especially when it comes to skin conditions like acne. According to
IRI, acne treatments represented a $611.3 million market for the
52 weeks ended Dec. 27, 2015 (see chart on previous page for
But leading dermatologists contend consumers need much
more guidance, especially when they are confronted with a dizzying array of options.
“It is overwhelming when you see hundreds of skin care
products,” said Seemal R. Desai, MD, FAAD, who is president
and medical director of innovative dermatology, PA and clinical assistant professor in the department of Dermatology at
the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
“There are a lot of products—and there are some good things and
some not so good things,” added Dr. Desai.
Dr. Michelle Green agreed that the OTC marketplace pro-
vides many more options today. And while this New York based
dermatologist offers her own line of skin care products sold
through her office, she noted“many OTC products work well.”
“A mistake they make is that they use a lot of scrubs. You can’t
scrub out your acne…It doesn’t have to be harsh and abrasive to
work,” she said.
Both Drs. Green and Desai agree that a key mistake in DIY
acne care regimens is moisturization, or more accurately, a lack
“People think I’m oily, I don’t need to moisturize. And that’s
not true. Moisturizer is very important,”said Dr. Desai, who is also
national secretary/treasurer of the Skin of Color Society and will
deliver a keynote address at Happi’s 2016 Anti-Aging Conference
and Tabletop Exhibition later this year. (For more details on the
conference, see conference.happi.com.)
Dr. Desai also dispensed more sound advice for acne suf-
ferers: don’t just chase pimples. “People get lazy when they are
And while they can turn to OTC products to do, if the prob-
lem persists, dermatologists say consumers need to call and make
“The sooner they get treated, they more likely they are to fare
better,” concluded Dr. Desai. • Consumers want to solve skin care quandaries themselves sometimes.