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  • Jan 05, 2019




Self-medication is an individual behavior that refers to the consumption of a pharmaceutical agent in violation of relevant guidelines in order to influence health status


Self-medication is a rampant and global phenomenon. It is a controversial behavior that can has some benefits but might also lead to serious adverse impact. The final outcome of such a practice depends upon the manner in which it is carried out. As of now, there is a considerable ambiguity surrounding this practice. On the positive side, self-medication is known to offer an alternative to the problems of inadequate access to healthcare whereas on the other side, it is fraught with the risks of inducing toxicity and dependence. This article touches upon the reasons, consequences, and measures to how the best it can be put to a beneficial use.



Reasons and Perceived Advantages


·         Convenience and pocket friendliness

·         Lack of awareness about harmful impact

·         An attempt to conceal one’s illness

·         Easy availability of medicines without prescription

·         Prompting of self use done by a trusted source like a family member, friend, pharmacist, and advertisement by media 

·         Repetition of a previous prescription on the expectation of  continuation of beneficial effect



Risks Associated with Self-medication


·         Drug resistance, especially related to antimicrobial agents

·         Abuse of medicinal agents

·         Prolonged course of illness due to wrong dosage and faulty route of administration

·         Drug induced hypersensitivity and rashes

·         Non-reporting of uncommon side effects leading to a gap in collection of scientific data

·         Drug interaction with food and other medications


Current Status of Self-medication


At present, the status of self-medication is unsettled. The following are some of the credible entities that recognize self-medication as a significant component in improvement of public health

·         World Health Organization

·         USFDA

·         European Parliament

·         World Medical association

·         Canada

·         International Council of Nurses


Responsible Self-medication


The concept of responsible self-medication implies controlled self use of a limited number of medicines to maximize their benefits and minimize risks. Responsible use is governed by certain guidelines, comprising

·         To promote active role of patients in their health management

·         To be practiced with due precautions while dealing with infants and young children, the elderly, and the pregnant or lactating women,

·         To minimize dependence or need to access healthcare system as in  under-served communities

·         To save scarce financial and human resources

·         To promote health education

·         To provide better control to patients for minor ailments




You are permitted to share, distribute, print, or reproduce this article for private use with proper citation of the source. The article is a part of our service to fellow human beings as a means of health education and awareness enhancement to minimize dependence on healthcare


Dr Vinay Kumar

Senior Consultant Dermatologist



+91-93 199 299 00



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