Definition, Classification, Advantages and Disadvantages of Powders : Pharmaguideline

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Definition, Classification, Advantages and Disadvantages of Powders

Definition, Classification of powders, Bulk powders, Dusting powders, Douche powders, Insufflations, Powder sprays, Divided powders etc.


Powders are solid forms of dosage containing finely divided medications and other substances intended for ingestion or external application. In its finely divided state, it is a solid substance (varying between 10nm and 1000µm), typically sorted through crushing, grinding, or comminating.

In addition to the pharmaceutical industry, powder has applications in many more fundamental fields, such as foods, cosmetics, and chemicals. In general, APIs are marketed as powdered dosage forms, which are processed and mixed into small amounts. 

Even though tablets and capsules have largely replaced the use of powder in modern medicine, they still represent one of the oldest forms of dosage and continue to hold some advantages that make them valuable for pharmaceutical applications. The point of this article is to present both the advantages and disadvantages of powder formulations.

Classification of powders

Bulk powders

As bulk powders are non-potent and can be dosed accurately and safely with measuring devices such as teaspoons, cups, and insufflators, they are non-potent. The limited prescriptions of bulk powders in the oral form are antacids, dietary supplements, laxatives, and pain relievers. The vast majority of bulk powders are topical.

Dusting powders

Powders for dusting are fine medicinal (bulk), dry powders that are intended to be dusted onto the skin using a sifter-topped container. Powders containing single medicinal agents can be applied as dusting powders; however, bases are frequently used to apply medicinal agents and protect skin against irritation. Among the inert dusting, powder bases are the clay, kaolin, kieselguhr, magnesium carbonate, talc, starch, and starch. Powder bases are effective for absorbing secretions and draining congestion, and they impart a cooling sensation. It is recommended that extemporaneous dusting powders be filtered through a 100-200 mesh sieve to remove any grit that will further inflame traumatized areas.

Douche powders

Douche powders, also called douches, are used to prepare vaginal cleansing solutions. The majority of douche powders will be used for their hygienic effects. However, some will contain antibiotics. In general, patients have prescribed powders as a matter of convenience, since a powder is easier to transport compared to a bulky solution. A certain volume of water is used to dissolve a teaspoonful or tablespoonful of powder so that the specified concentration is achieved. A pH of 3.5 to 5 is usually appropriate for the preparation of the solution. A feminine bulb syringe or a fountain syringe is used to irrigate the vaginal area. The ingredients in douche powder may contain volatile substances (e.g., menthol, thymol, and volatile oils). The containers need to be made of glass, large enough to hold the food. Several commercial douche powder packets come in metal foil bags. Each bag contains the appropriate amount of powder for one douche. Numerous douches are also available in disposable applicators that have already been prepared for use.


As the name implies, insufflations are extremely fine powders that are used to be injected into the body. A powder is placed in the insufflator, and the medicine is inhaled by the air current when the bulb is squeezed. When the air current travels directly to the patient's skin, the particles are inhaled. An insufflation resulting from extemporaneous compounding must be passed through a size 100 mesh sieve before being administered. As an elegant solution for administering insufflations, pressured packages provide an excellent solution.

Powder sprays

Dispensing powders under pressure will provide a uniform and targeted application, as opposed to simply dusting powders. A sterile environment can be maintained in an aerosol container for powdered medicines. To prevent clogging of the valve orifice and to maintain the uniform application of powder, the particles must be of a specific size range. For powder to be sprayed effectively, it must contain particles smaller than 50 microns if it is to be packaged as a powder spray.

Divided powders

A divided powder or chart is a single dose of powdered medicines in one or more individual packages, such as cellophane, metallic foil, or paper. The patient does not participate in the measurement process of powder divided into smaller dosage units, which makes them a more accurate dosage form than bulk powder. Divided powders are available in foil, cellophane, or paper packs, each providing better protection from the external environment due to their sealed nature. Cellophane, foil, and paper are all commercially available powders that protect themselves from external factors.

Advantages of powders

  1. The ingredients are available in a wide range, and the dose can be easily established for the patient.
  2. Liquid dosage forms have a shorter shelf life and less physicochemical stability than powder dosage forms. For example, powders for antibiotic syrups are shelf-stable for two to three years, but they lose their shelf life once they are reconstituted with water.
  3. In adults and children who find tablets or capsules difficult to swallow, powders may be a better choice.
  4. The powder form allows for the effective administration of a very large dose that would be impossible to administer in any other way. Sometimes it is not feasible to produce tablets if the dose of a drug is between 1 and 5 grams.
  5. Taking pills in powder form rather than in compressed form causes the medication to disperse rapidly in the stomach.
  6. A water-soluble drug contained in an oral powder dissolves much more rapidly than a similar drug contained in a tablet or capsule, in which the tablet or capsule shell must be disintegrated before dissolution.
  7. Water or another liquid can be dissolved in a powder, making it easier to swallow.
  8. Mixing the oral powder with a beverage or applesauce immediately before taking the supplement is highly recommended.
  9. Powder dosage forms are relatively inexpensive to manufacture, so the product price is quite low as compared to other forms.
  10. Mixing powders allow for a great deal of versatility.

Disadvantages of powders

  1. If you take a drug that has an unpleasant taste, powders are not the best dosage form. A taste that is masking an unpleasant quality may be problematic.
  2. As much as possible, powders should not be dispensing drugs that deteriorate rapidly in terms of exposure to the atmosphere or acidic pH. Salts of ferrous iron, for instance, oxidize easily and should not be administered as powders.
  3. Carrying powder is a hassle since it is bulky and heavy.
  4. It is not appropriate to use the powder dosage form for administering medications, such as pills and pills, that inactivate in the stomach or that can harm the stomach.
  5. The use of powders for potent drugs requiring small doses may not be an appropriate method of delivering them (e.g., bulk powders). Due to variations in spoon fill (e.g., heaped or level Spoonfuls) when individual doses are extracted from bulk, individual doses typically are extracted from the bulk using a 5 ml spoon.
  6. The dispensing of deliquescent or hygroscopic drugs is not suitable for powders.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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