Dermatological problems account for between 15 and 20% of all consultations in general practice. Pharmacists could have a potentially valuable role in the management of mild to moderate skin problems although little is known about the prevalence or management of dermatological problems in pharmacies.
The aims of the present study were as follows:
• to determine pharmacists’ views on the prevalence of skin problems;
• to explore the reasons why pharmacists refer patients with skin problems to their GP;
• to determine which dermatological treatments pharmacists would like to see made available without prescription.
The study involved the use of an anonymous self-completion questionnaire, which was sent to a randomly generated sample of 3,500 community pharmacies in England and Wales using the Royal Pharmaceutical Society register of premises.
A total of 870 completed questionnaires were returned, giving a response rate of 25% (870/3,500). Pharmacists perceived that only 7 different skin conditions accounted for over 80% of all requests for advice throughout the year. Furthermore nearly two-thirds (59 %, n = 850) of pharmacists estimated that dermatological requests accounted for 6-15% of all requests. Pharmacists reported the most common reason for referral of patients to their GP was for a prescription only treatment. The most frequent request for OTC dermatologicals was for topical antibiotics (49.3%).
This exploratory study suggests that community pharmacists routinely encounter only a small number of different conditions and would be happy to increase their dermatological armamentarium.
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