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Stretch your dollars by purchasing your qualifying medical skin care products before the end of the year.

Stretch your dollars by purchasing your qualifying medical skin care products before the end of the year.


If you have a FLEX plan or other medical expense reimbursement plan for your out of pocket medical expenses, check with your plan administrator about whether your 2009 skin care product purchases qualify for reimbursement.

Over the years I’ve seen many patients who can get their medical skin care product expenses reimbursed by their pretax health benefit accounts or who can deduct them as medical expenses.  If you think this is you, ask your plan administrator.   In my experience, patients need a note from their treating doctor stating that they have an active medical condition and that their skin care products are used to treat that problem.

Medicated skin care products that I use to treat active medical conditions in my patients include:

  1. All of our sunscreens (which are SPF 30 or higher)
  2. All of our Acne Kits and individual acne products (they are medicines containing either salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or pyrithione zinc)
  3. Calming Zinc and Foaming Zinc Soap (with pyrithione zinc for treatment of active rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis)

From my experience and research on the subject it’s clear that skin care products in general do not qualify as medical expenses when they are used for routine hygiene or for prevention of a medical condition (sunscreen may be the exception here, ask your plan administrator).  However, people who use medicated skin care products to treat their active skin problems may have purchases that qualify as medical expenses.

The medicated products I just mentioned are categories of products regulated by the FDA as over the counter medicines for the treatment of medical conditions.  Ask your plan administrator or tax specialist if your purchases qualify as medical expenses and find out what documentation you need for your records. Remember, just because the treatment makes sense doesn’t mean the IRS thinks the expense qualifies.

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