6.8 Skills Checklist: Topical Medications

  1. Gather Supplies: Topical medication, gloves, medicine cup, medicine spoon (if medication is in a jar), and barrier
  2. Routine Pre-Procedure Steps:
    • Knock on the resident’s door.
    • Perform hand hygiene.
    • Maintain respectful, courteous, and professional communication at all times.
    • Introduce yourself and identify the resident.
    • Provide for privacy.
    • Explain the procedure to the resident.
  3. Procedure Steps:
    • Put on gloves.
    • Place the appropriate amount of medication from the tube, jar, or bottle in a medicine cup. If the medication is in a jar, use a medication spoon to scoop out the medication. Do not put your hands directly into the jar. If using a tube, do not squeeze the medication onto your gloved hand.
    • Place the medication on a flat surface with a barrier.
    • Clean the area where the medication is to be applied. If there is a patch, confirm with the nurse that it should be removed.
    • Remove gloves, turning them inside out.
    • Perform hand hygiene.
    • Put on clean gloves.
    • Using your gloved hand, apply medication from the cup onto the affected area. Be sure to gently rub in the medication so it can be absorbed by the skin for maximum effectiveness.
    • Remove gloves, turning them inside out.
  4. Post-Procedure Steps:
    • Perform hand hygiene.
    • Check the resident’s comfort and if anything else is needed.
    • Ensure the bed is low and locked. Check the brakes.
    • Place the call light or signaling device within reach of the resident.
    • Open the door and the privacy curtain.
    • Perform hand hygiene.
    • Document and report any skin issues or changes to the nurse.

View a YouTube video[1] of an instructor demonstration of topical medications:


  1. Chippewa Valley Technical College. (2022, December 3). Topical Medications. [Video]. YouTube. Video licensed under CC BY 4.0https://youtu.be/ZJGNFg6ccYM


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Nursing Assistant Copyright © by Chippewa Valley Technical College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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