Q: Am I permitted to suggest or dispense over-the-counter medications, such as creams, oils, powders, and the like to my clients? And, under what circumstances should I refer them to a dermatologist?
A: There is no problem dispensing over-the-counter cosmetic-type products, such as moisturizing creams and lubricating oils to clients. However, I don’t recommend nail technicians prescribe over-the-counter medications, such as an antifungal treatment or steroid-type preparation, because they can make a condition worse. Suppose the nail technician has an acrylic client with chronic lifting and she thinks that it’s due to a fungal infection, so she recommends an over-the-counter antifungal treatment when lifting is actually due to psoriasis. This may cause the psoriasis to get worse. And what if the opposite is true? The nail technician thinks it looks like psoriasis and therefore recommends an over-the-counter cortisone preparation? Suppose it’s not due to psoriasis, but fungus, in which case prescribing a steroid can worsen the condition and potentially make the nail technician liable for injury. Situations like these are why I don’t recommend dispensing, nor even suggesting, over-the-counter medications. Any nail condition that doesn’t resolve within a few weeks almost certainly requires medical intervention, preferably by a dermatologist.