Your quick guide to identifying prescription pills

Sep 01, 2014
Tagged with: Your quick guide to identifying prescription pills

Sometimes, the pills cannot be easily distinguished from others. This can make it hard for one who has vision or other problems identifying a pill that isn’t marked. Pills can come in different colors and styles. If a caretaker working with a patient has trouble identifying pills, it may be difficult to care for the sick person. Here are some tips for identifying pills.

Top resources for identifying pills

There are numerous resources that are available for identifying a pill. Apps, online directories and the local pharmacy are all great places to start in attempting to identify a pill. Relying on the pills physical attributes is always a good start and is required for many of the resources.

How to identify pills with no markings

Even if the pills have no markings, there are other characteristics that can be used to figure out the name of the pill. It’s important to be able to identify the pill because it could very well be a narcotic with a special coating or cause a dangerous interaction. If there are no markings, the pills should be searched by shape and color.

How to identify pills by shape

One clue to learning to identify a pill is the shape. Not all pills are shaped the same way. This can be a helpful approach to identifying a pill because it is one of the first things one notices when seeing a pill for the first time. Pills come in different shapes to help you identify them. This is one of the things you can use to search a directory. Pills can come in a variety of shapes.

Shapes of pills
  • Round
  • Oblong
  • Hexagon
  • Rectangle
  • Diamond
  • Seven-sided
  • Oval
  • Triangle
  • Octagon
  • Square
  • Pentagon
  • Heart
  • Kidney
  • Shield
  • Bow tie
  • Trapezoid


Pills and colors

There isn’t any method to determining the color of a pill. Pills can come in a variety of colors. When using the color as an attribute, colors like white, tan and beige can really make a difference in a query. Pay careful attention to hues within a certain color family when searching by attribute.

Several apps to identify pills

The Pill Identifier app by allows iPhone users to identify a medication. With over 14,000 entries in the database, one can search the directory using one of several attributes. The iPharmacy Pill ID app contains a database of medications and even includes price comparison mechanisms. Prescription Pill Identifier is yet another app that gives users the options of searching by shape, color and other attributes.

Several websites to identify pills

Most people can find a wealth of information on an unidentifiable pill online using a directory., and are examples of popular websites that have online tools designed for searching pill attributes.


The final option is perhaps the easiest one. A pharmacist can identify the pill. A visit to the local pharmacist can remove much of the guesswork. A pharmacist, who spends most of their day filling prescriptions, may be able to help you figure out precisely what the pill is.

Prevent pills from being mixed up by mistake

In addition to keeping pills in a labeled prescription bottle, one can also put those pills in an actual organizer. Putting the pills in an organizer reduces the chances of them being mixed up. Carrying pills around for a long time in certain conditions can cause the markings to fade, making it harder to identify. Whenever possible, pills should be stored in their original containers. Using the resources above can assist one in attempting to identify prescriptions drugs. If the origin of the pill is unknown, it is usually best to discard it if it’s not an immediate need. Remember that, in the United States, pills are required to have certain markings for patient safety. The FDA has more regulations than ever in place with regards to labeling. In addition to labeling for the bottles, the FDA now requires XML-formatted information be available when a medication is registered.

Author: David Glenn