Many common complaints can be safely dealt with at home or by speaking to your local Pharmacist.  You do not always need to be seen by a Doctor.

Under the Common Ailments Scheme your Pharmacist can provide free confidential NHS advice for conditions such as diarrhoea, hay vever, head lice, chickenpox, threadworms, sore throats, conjunctivitis, verrucas, back pain, vaginal and oral thrush, scabies to name a few.

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ANTIBIOTICS: These are powerful drugs that only work on bacteria and not viruses. Common infections like colds, flu and most coughs will not be helped by antibiotics. Remedies outlined below may help you treat these conditions.

Coughs and Colds: Take plenty of fluids, Paracetamol and steam inhalations. Most illnesses settle by 7 to 10 days. Antibiotics usually do not help but please arrange to be seen if you develop breathing difficulties, chest pain or cough bloody sputum.

Sore throats: Regular Paracetamol gargles (or soluble aspirin if over 16 years), drink plenty and try throat lozenges if they help. Most sore throats settle in 3 to 5 days. Antibiotics rarely make a difference in recovery.

Back Pain: 60 million working days are lost each year in the UK through back pain. The spine being made up of 24 bones and interlocking ligaments, supports the whole weight of the upper body and it is not surprising that it sometimes causes problems. If you develop back pain try regular Paracetamol for up to 5 days, apply heat to the affected area and massage and rest for 24 hours. After this, try gentle exercise and swimming to get you back into shape and fit again. If things do not settle after trying these measures please let us know. The vast majority of back complaints settle in 7 weeks. It is therefore not recommended that X-rays are taken before this time.

Childhood rashes: If your child is well but has a rash then there is usually little cause for concern. If you are worried it is quite safe and often quicker to bring him or her to the surgery.

Chickenpox: A rash appears as small red patches with itchy blisters. Over a period of 5 to 10 days the rash will dry up and crust over – a person is infectious until the last crusts have dropped off. Calamine lotion and cool baths will help the itch.

Hayfever: very common and occurs when the pollen count is high. Antihistamine tablets (which can be purchased over the counter) usually relieve symptoms and these are available from the chemist.

Burns: Immediately apply large quantities of cold water. If the skin is unbroken but blistered you can apply a loose dressing. If the burn is large or skin broken seek medical advice.

Sunburn: Over exposure of your skin to the sun is harmful. Use high factor sun screen (greater than factor 15). Fair skinned or high risk groups should use the maximum factor available. If you do burn, cool the skin with cold water and apply calamine lotion. Keep burnt area covered until healed. REMEMBER – OVER EXPOSURE CAN LEAD TO SKIN CANCER IN LATER LIFE.

Sprains: Apply a cold compress of crushed ice cubes in a plastic bag or a packet of frozen peas through a tea towel for 15 to 30 minutes. Then put a firmly applied crepe bandage