There are eight million people living with a skin condition in the UK. As Hampshire pharmacist Sid Dajani says, skincare is a significant category for community pharmacies, offering patients an easily accessible point of advice. ‘With such a huge range of skincare treatments available, customers can find it confusing as to what is the best product to purchase, so staff need a thorough knowledge of this category,’ he says. ‘Pharmacy teams may be able to identify potential customers by the appearance of their skin, but they should also look out for those taking prescription treatments and browsing the skincare fixture.’
Education of healthcare professionals and consumers is the key to successful treatment. ‘Pharmacists should be aware that customers may know very little about skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea and will need support, advice and guidance on identifying and managing their symptoms,’ says Annelies Smits, international brand manager for Dermalex.
‘There are lots of online resources for consumers such as the website Rosacea Uncovered (www.rosaceauncovered.co.uk), a new interactive website that provides information and support in managing rosacea.’ Omega Pharma offers online raining modules to help pharmacists refine their skills in the skincare category.
When providing advice, the psychological impact of skin disease shouldn’t be ignored, even if the symptoms are mild. Skin disease doesn’t just affect how people look – it can impact on self- confidence, relationships and day-to-day life. According to Dermalex research, 93 per cent of rosacea sufferers admit that their condition inhibits their social life, while 60 per cent of psoriasis suffers claim that their condition causes serious problems in leading their everyday lives.
Meanwhile, a survey commissioned by Eau Thermale Avène has also revealed that 23 per cent of eczema sufferers say the condition makes them feel depressed and 42 per cent say it makes them feel unattractive.
Teenagers and young adults can feel particularly self-conscious if they believe their skin is less than perfect. The new Clearasil online campaign – #ShowYourFace – is promoting the important role clear skin plays in self-esteem, among its key 15- to 19-year-old market. The campaign is running throughout the spring and summer with an in-store competition to win tickets to top UK festivals followed by the ‘Selfie Face-Off’, with entrants competing to see their selfie showcased on massive out-of-home screens at key locations across the UK.
Customers can find it confusing as to what is the best product to purchase, so staff need a thorough knowledge of this category
According to Ilaria Fossati, brand manager at Professional Aveeno, recommending the right product for the right patient is key to ensuring compliance. ‘Optimal use of emollients could deliver a 50 per cent reduction in prescriptions of topical corticosteroids, antibiotics and associated GP consultations,’ she says. ‘Recommend patients use complete emollient therapy daily to manage their dry eczema-prone skin to help restore and maintain the skin barrier at its optimal level. New for 2014, Aveeno Skin Relief with cooling menthol hydrates and immediately soothes the irritation associated with dry skin and helps to restore the skin’s natural barrier.’
Earlier this year, E45 teamed up with the Living Care Group, an independent pharmacy chain in West Yorkshire, to promote the benefits of complete emollient therapy, with in-store demonstrations to showcase the correct way to apply emollients. ‘The E45 1,2,3 programme is supported by the National Eczema Society,’ says Mark Pearson, Reckitt Benckiser’s healthcare marketing director. ‘It is available through pharmacists, providing parents of children with eczema with the information and resources they need to be able to manage the symptoms of their children’s eczema effectively.’
Research by MSD, among 500 adults in the UK living with eczema, has revealed that one of the reasons why people with eczema don’t use emollients often enough is because their pot or pump was too big to carry around. The Diprobase range is now more widely available in convenient sizes for self-selection in pharmacies (50g cream, 50g ointment, 50ml lotion and 300ml lotion).
‘It is important that people play a role in self- managing their condition by applying emollients regularly, even when the skin is clear of eczema,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Hextall, commenting on the research. ‘Having a conveniently sized range of products that offer heavier or lighter moisturisation as required, should help people suffering achieve greater control.’
Mr Pearson says that acne advice shouldn’t just be about product selection. He says acne sufferers should understand how to wash their face, ‘leaving the product on the skin for 30 seconds or so, rinsing with warm (not hot) water and patting the skin dry with a fluffy towel. Any over-treatment or scrubbing will only result in red blotchy skin that tends to break out.’
Pharmacy teams can help customers with mild skin conditions prevent further flare-ups. ‘If a customer has a prescription for a steroid cream to treat flare- up for eczema, they may not have thought about what products to wash with and could be using harsh products containing irritants that can affect their recovery,’ says Bao-Tam Phan, UK and Ireland marketing manager and pharmacist at Laboratoires Pierre Fabre. As well as helping someone to solve their problem, ‘promoting dermo-cosmetics is a means of up-selling and ultimately increasing sales.’
Oilatum, a Stiefel range of products from GSK, has launched Oilatum Daily Junior Lotion, which can be used daily for dry skin prone to eczema. ‘Emollients are the mainstay of treatment, even when eczema is clear,’ says Caroline Fredj, senior brand manager for Oilatum. ‘Research indicates that 44 per cent of parents claim their child has had a dry skin condition, and we’ve identified a gap in the market for a moisturising product that consumers can use on their children on a daily basis.’ Retailers are recommended to utilise POS in store and stock the Oilatum Daily Junior Lotion on the baby aisle to help grow the category.
Evelyn Liddell, superintendent pharmacist at Weleda, says that natural is a preferred choice for many consumers. ‘Before selecting which products to stock, several factors ought to be considered: Is the quality guaranteed? Are the products licensed – if so, under what scheme? Does the product deliver? Is self-selection possible or is further training/communication of purpose necessary? Will it sell? Products licensed as THRs (traditional herbal registration) answer many of the questions raised above,’ she suggests.
Many natural skincare brands, such as Grahams Skincare and MooGoo (both from Australia), are keen to get into more independent pharmacies. ‘Some of the main issues include ingredients that contain alcohol or parabens, which often can be hard to skin, especially extra sensitive skin conditions,’ says Jeroen Dorresteijn from Grahams Skincare. ‘Product ranges such as Grahams Skincare can help, as this natural range is free from harsh chemicals and helps to soothe the skin.’
MooGoo is suitable for eczema and sensitive skin. ‘In general, people want a more holistic solution and pharmacy staff can help with that,” says Craig Jones from the brand. ‘Understanding that many skin problems have underlying causes, and being able to discuss these with some authority, is very valuable for customers.’
The skintoskin range of clothing has been designed to relieve itching and reduce the risk of bacterial infections and is now available via the NHS drug tariff, says Graham Lea, UK distribution manager.
This is an area where staff training is of central importance.
Lila Thakerar, Shaftesbury Pharmacy, Harrow, Middlesex ‘As most of the products recommended for eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and dry skin are available to be bought over the counter, the first source of advice is the pharmacy. It is a category that generates counter sales, so staff training on the subject is important to further increase sales. Products such as E45 for dry skin, Hc45 for eczema and the Balneum range of products for dry skin are our main recommendations. Associated advice, such as correct usage of the products and referrals to the GP if large areas of the skin are affected, is vital. Patient confidence in the advice given by trained staff at the pharmacy is a challenge that every business should aim to achieve.’
Dilip Patel, Mirage Pharmacy, Handsworth, Birmingham ‘We have a dermatology clinic, run by GPs, next door to our pharmacy, so we do get more enquiries than an average pharmacy would get. But we’re finding there are a lot more people suffering from various skin problems, such as allergies, eczema and dry skin. E45 and Oilatum sell well and there’s a range called Salcura that is steroid-free and can be used for babies from six months onwards. I think that pharmacists could get more support from skincare manufacturers in terms of merchandising and staff training. If you have really well trained staff who are knowledgeable about the products and the conditions, then your sales will increase. But one of the problems that all pharmacists face, especially independents like ourselves, is finding time to sit down with staff and arrange training.’
Alan Bradley, Cornwell’s Chemist, Stoke-on-Trent ‘There are so many over-the-counter products on the market for skin that it can confuse customers as to which is best for each condition. I believe our healthcare assistants can lead the advice and sales provided to the consumer. Indications for these products change over time, for example many more can be used as soap substitutes. We also see increased sales of products that are normally seen on prescription, as people’s confidence in the use of these products improves with experience. My personal favourite for dermatological issues is Aveeno, because of its gentle but moisturising nature on skin that is sensitive and weak.’