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Health insurers have paid out an estimated ¥9.3 billion in claims for a skin ointment that is increasingly being used by some as a cosmetic beauty treatment, a survey by an industry body has found.

Demand for Hirudoid ointment, normally prescribed to treat atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, spiked after it was touted in magazines and on the internet as a cheap and effective moisturizer.

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