Sprays may be defined as aqueous or oleaginous solutions in the form of coarse droplets or as finely divided solids to be applied topically, most usually to the nasopharyngeal tract or to the skin. Many commercial sprays are used intranasally to relieve nasal congestion and inflammation and to combat infection and contain antihistamines, sympathomimetic agents, and antibiotic substances. Because of the noninvasive nature and quickness with which nasal sprays can deliver medication systemically, in the future, several drugs that typically have been administered by other routes will be taken nasally. Most notably, insulin and glucagon will be administered in this fashion. Research has demonstrated that the administration of glucagon via a nasal spray can relieve hypoglycemic symptoms within 7 minutes, a definite advantage over conventional emergency intravenous glucose or intramuscular glucagon.

Other sprays that are employed against sunburn and heat burn contain local anesthetics, antiseptics, skin protectants, and antipruritics. Throat sprays containing antiseptics, deodorants, and flavorants may be effectively employed to relieve conditions such as halitosis, sore throat, and laryngitis. Other sprays treat athlete’s foot and other fungal infections. Numerous other medicinal and cosmetic uses of sprays are commonly available in pharmacies.

To break up a solution into small particles so that it may be effectively sprayed or to facilitate the spraying of a powder, several mechanical devices are commonly employed. The plastic spray bottle, gently squeezed to issue a spray of its contents, is familiar to most. It is commonly used for nasal decongestant sprays as well as cosmetically, especially for body deodorant products. Recently, one-way pump sprays have been developed to deliver medication into the nose. These sprays are used for both prescription, such as Nasalide (Syntex), and nonprescription, such as Nostrilla (Boehringer Ingelheim), medicines. The advantage of these over conventional sprays is that the design prevents drawback contamination of nasal fluids into the bottle after administration, a definite advantage for someone trying to cope with viruses associated with the common cold. Pharmacists are familiar with medicinal atomizers, which emit medication in the form of fi ne droplets. One type of atomizer has a rubber bulb at the end of the apparatus, which when squeezed causes a flow of air, some of which enters the glass reservoir and some of which exits from the opposite end of the system. The air forced into the reservoir causes the liquid to rise in a small dip tube, forcing the solution up and into the stream of air exiting the system. The air and the solution are forced through a jet opening and the liquid is broken up into a spray, the droplets being carried by the airstream. In other similar apparatus, the stream of air caused by the depression of the bulb does not enter the reservoir of solution but passes swiftly over it, creating a pressure change and sucking the liquid into the dip tube and into the airstream, in which it exits the system.