Not Medical Advice: Dermatologic means having to do with the skin while ophthalmic pertains to the eye. Therefore, "for dermatologic use only; not for ophthalmic use" means it is for skin application only and contact with the eyes should be avoided.
Topical drugs (drugs applied directly to the skin) are a mainstay of treating skin disorders. Systemic drugs are taken by mouth or given by injection and are distributed throughout the body. Rarely, when a high concentration of a drug is needed at the affected area, a doctor injects the drug just under the skin (intradermal injection).
The active ingredient, or drug, in a topical preparation is mixed with an inactive ingredient (vehicle). The vehicle determines the consistency of the product and whether the active ingredient remains on the surface or penetrates the skin.
Depending on the vehicle used, the same drug can be placed in an ointment, cream, lotion, solution, gel, oil, foam, or powder. In addition, many preparations are available in different strengths (concentrations). Choice of vehicle depends on where the drug will be applied, how it will look, and how convenient it is to apply and leave on.
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