Must-have OTC medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are available without a prescription. They are used to treat the symptoms of minor illnesses that don’t usually require medical treatment by a doctor in a clinic or hospital. 

Having the right kinds of OTC medications on hand is important in case of minor illnesses and emergencies. Whether at home, at work or on the go, here are OTC medications that you must have:

For fever, headache, and pain

  • Paracetamol
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

For stuffy/congested nose due to colds

  • Phenylephrine
  • Phenylpropanolamine

Note: Many cold remedies contain antihistamines, which cause drowsiness and are best reserved for allergies.

For cough

  • Dextromethorphan (for dry cough)
  • Guaifenesin (for cough with phlegm)

For allergies

  • Diphenhydramine
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Loratadine (does not cause drowsiness)

For diarrhea

  • Loperamide
  • Oral rehydration solution (to prevent and treat dehydration due to diarrhea)

For hyperacidity and heartburn

  • Aluminum hydroxide + magnesium hydroxide + simethicone
  • Aluminum hydroxide + magnesium carbonate

For itchy rashes, bug bites, and other skin irritations

  • Calamine lotion
  • Antihistamine cream

For minor cuts and burns

  • Povidone-iodine solution (antiseptic)
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Bandages and gauze pads
  • Medical tape
  • Antibiotic ointment

Before taking any OTC medication, read the label, especially the dosage, frequency, and precautions sections. Some OTC medications may cause significant side effects and interact with prescription medications and cause harm. When in doubt and if symptoms persist, consult your doctor or pharmacist. Shop at Watsons for OTC medications and other essential healthcare products.


      1. Accessed 10 July 2020
      2. Accessed 10 July 2020
      3. Accessed 10 July 2020

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