Medicated skin care sales are soaring


The Hamacher Resource Group provided the information for this article. The Milwaukee company provides marketing services and business intelligence to the healthcare industry. Wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers partner with Hamacher Resource Group to improve their profitability. For more information, visit

Drawing from a number of primary over-the-counter categories, medicated skin care covers a range of products, including first aid ointments and antiseptics, lip balm/cold sore medicines, athlete's foot treatments, anti-itch remedies, acne fighters, wart removers, and hemorrhoidal treatments. For drugstores, it's the ultimate in cross-merchandising: Create a new category based on condition management instead of product type. How else could athlete's foot treatments (from the foot care category) and cold sore medicine (from cough & cold) peacefully coexist on the same shelf?

The sheer number of problems our skin can develop is evidence enough that it's the largest organ our bodies have. Allergic reactions, fungal infections, viral bacteria, burns, scrapes, scars, swelling, and growths and lesions of all kinds plague millions of Americans every day, often causing severe discomfort to the sufferer. Medical specialists are the experts at treating the worst of these conditions, but research and development by OTC manufacturers have contributed an extensive collection of effective products to the universe of medicated skin care offerings. Changing lifestyle habits and promotional focus by manufacturers are driving more consumers to drugstore shelves for products they may otherwise have overlooked.

Up $6 million (8%)
Up $2.5 million (1.5%)
First aid ointments/Antiseptics
Up $621 thousand (
Foot treatments
Up $21 million (19%)
Lip balm/Cold sore
Up $11 million (8%)
Up $1 million (1%)
Wart removers
Up $15 million (58%)
* In drugstores, for the 52 weeks ended 4/17/2005 versus the 52 weeks ended 3/21/2004, according to IRI.

No longer a footnote

The foot treatments segment (including corn, callus, and bunion products; athlete's foot medications; antifungal treatments; foot-grooming supplies; and odor and wetness fighters), is enjoying a sales renaissance, with a drugstore dollar increase of nearly 19%, in the 52 weeks ended April 17, 2005, over the same time period a year earlier, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI). But this growth was not a phenomenon of the entire foot care category. Foot devices gains were a much more modest 2% over the prior year. The real action is in medicated remedies for common foot conditions that heretofore went largely untreated by consumers.

Why the rebirth of interest in foot health and appearance? One elementary answer may be simple vanity. For female consumers, new models of year-round open-toed shoesand relaxed dress codes in many businessesplus renewed interest in recreational athletic activity mean the world now gets a glimpse at what used to be hidden all day inside fashionable leather and (too often) plastic creations. For male and female consumers alike, stricter air travel security measures mean a regular parade of shoeless feet in one of the most public places we visit.

People with diabetes are all too aware of foot problems that can quickly become dangerous. Purchase incidence of grooming products and antifungals among the diabetic population is projected to increaseespecially among drugstoresas the disease settles into the aging baby boomer contingent.

Overall, manufacturer advertising and an ongoing foot-health campaign by the American Podiatric Medical Association might be finally sinking in. Feet are becoming more than walking devices we occasionally consider when one of them hurts, or when a planned night on the town calls for a pedicure.

Warts leave no reason to worry

Rumored success of the legendary duct tape method notwithstanding, consumers are flocking to medicinal wart removers in drugstores in remarkable numbers. Wart remover purchases are up more than $15 million and 400,000 units in the 52 weeks ended April 17, 2005, according to IRI. And consumers choose drug outlets for wart remover purchases more than 58% of the time versus other outlets. Clearly, the growth driver here is the two newer SKUs of wart "freezing" products (Dr. Scholl's Freeze Away and Compound W's Freeze Off). Both products carry price points above $20, more than double the price of the typical treatment. They join the Wartner Wart Removal System at the top of the best-seller list. Prior to 2003, Wartner marketed the only successful freezing product available for at-home use. Take away both the Dr. Scholl's and Compound W freezing products from the 2005 sales numbers, and wart remover sales revert back to the prior year's levels.

Introduced to the general public in the late 1990s, freezing technology uses a blend of propane, dimethyl ether, and isobutane to arrest the growth of the wart and "freeze" it until the dead skin cells literally fall off the body. By contrast, traditional acid-based wart removers, though effective, burn the wart cells, often leaving surrounding healthy cells with a less-than-desirable afterburn. But whether a consumer opts for burning or freezing of warts, drugstores benefit from increased traffic in the department.

Up, up and away

Medicated skin care offers drugstores and other outlets a strong cast of sure-fire sales drivers for virtually every type of consumer. By using the techniques of clever cross-merchandising and planning ahead for adequate stock levels of products with a seasonal component (e.g., anti-itch and cold sore remedies), stores can claim their piece of this hybrid category's profits. Cater to the needs of consumers' skin and watch your sales soar.

(Partial list provided by Hamacher Resource Group)

Clean & Clear Daily Pore Cleanser 5.5oz
Clearasil Acne Treatment Cream 1oz
Benadryl Itch Stopping Cream 1oz
Zanfel Poison Ivy Cream/Wash 1oz
Neosporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment 0.5oz
Polysporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment 0.5oz
Dr. Scholl's Corn/Callus Remover Liquid 0.33oz
Kerasal Foot Ointment 15gm
Lamisil AT Athlete's Foot Spray 1oz
Abreva Cold Sore Treatment 2gm
Blistex Lip Medex 0.25oz
Compound W Freeze Off 2.4oz
Wartner Wart Removal System 35ml

Clean & Clear Advantage Concealing Treatment Stick
Johnson & Johnson
Clean & Clear Morning Burst Energizing Astringent 8oz
Johnson & Johnson
Clearasil Ultra Acne Scar Care System
Neutrogena Complete Acne Therapy System
Stri-Dex Power Pads 28ct
First aid ointments
Cortaid Intensive Therapy Moisturizing Cream 1oz
Johnson & Johnson
Dermarest Scar Remover 1oz
Del Pharmaceuticals
Mederma for Kids 20gm
Merz Pharmaceuticals
Skin Crack Ointment 2.5oz
Johnson & Johnson

Foot treatments
Dr. Scholl's Callus Exfoliating Ointment 30gm
Flexitol Anti-Fungal Liquid 1oz
Eulactol USA
Kerasal AL Sheer & Light Lotion 4oz
Taro Consumer
Lamisil AT 24gm
Nonyx Nail Gel 4oz
Xenna Corp.

Lip balm/Cold sore
Aveeno Essential Moisture Lip Conditioner 0.15oz
Johnson & Johnson
Herpetrol Cold Sore Gel 7gm
Neosporin LT Lip Treatment 0.25oz
Pfizer Consumer
Preparation H Maximum Strength 26gm
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