Self Treatment for Minor Ailments

For advice and information on general health matters telephone: NHS 111 or visit

Many common illnesses can be treated successfully at home without needing to see a doctor.

Your pharmacist at the chemist shop is highly trained to advise you about medicines and to help you manage minor ailments and illnesses.


Back Pain

Most back pain responds to simple measures including Paracetamol for pain and warmth to relieve muscle spasm. Current medical advice is to encourage gentle exercise. Consult your doctor if pain is not controlled or persists.


Burns or Scalds

Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible until the pain subsides. This may take 15 minutes.  If the skin is unbroken but blistered, apply a large, loose, dry dressing.  If the burn is larger than four inches across or the skin is broken, consult the hospital casualty department.



This rash is of small red patches that blister and then crust over. The rash is itchy and fever may occur. Calamine lotion and Paracetamol syrup will give relief.  Children may return to school when all the crusts have dried out.


Colds and Influenza

These are caused by viruses. Antibiotics have no affect on viruses. Take Paracetamol for fever or aching. Drink plenty of fluids. There are many other remedies – ask your pharmacist for advice. If you are concerned, consult your doctor as complications are possible, particularly in the elderly or infirm. For these groups of people annual flu vaccinations are recommended.


Dental Pain

It is not appropriate for dental problems to be managed by your doctor –please contact a dentist.



Diarrhoea and Vomiting

The main treatment aim here is to prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of clear fluids. 

Rehydration powders (e.g. Dioralyte) help the fluid to be absorbed. Vomiting usually settles within a few hours. If it persists beyond 24 hours, sooner in a baby or young child, consult your doctor.


German Measles (Rubella)

This rash is harmless to the sufferer and usually gives few other symptoms. It consists of small pink patches, 2 – 4mm across and covers the body, arms and legs. It can be harmful to the unborn child, therefore it is important to inform the contacts of the diagnosis.  All children

should be immunised by the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine at about 13 months of age and again with a pre-school booster.


Head Lice

These creatures prefer clean hair and are not a sign of poor hygiene. Wash hair in the normal way with ordinary shampoo. Using lots of conditioner and while the hair is very wet, comb through the hair from the roots with a special fine toothed comb (available from your  pharmacist). Make sure the teeth of the comb slot into the hair at the roots with every stroke. 

Do this over a pale surface (a paper towel or the bath). Clear the comb of lice between each stroke. If lice are found, repeat this routine every three to four days for two weeks. Your local pharmacist will be able to recommend lotions or rinses if necessary. 

If the problem persists then discuss with your doctor.


Insect Bites and Stings

Most of these need no treatment. Antihistamine tablets can be obtained from the chemist without prescription and will relieve most symptoms.



This usually causes a high temperature, cough and sore eyes, before the typical rash appears. This rash is red, blotchy and occurs on the face and trunk. It is contagious until 10 days after the rash began.  Severe illness is unusual but complications can occur, so vaccination of every child by the MMR vaccine is strongly recommended.


Minor Cuts

Wash the wound thoroughly. Stop bleeding by applying a clean dressing firmly to the wound for five minutes.  Cover with a clean dry dressing.



Painful swelling of the gland in front of one or both ears occurs. The patient is infectious for about 10 days after the onset.  Serious complications can rarely follow and all children should be immunised by the MMR vaccine.


Nose Bleeds

Sit forward, blow the nose clear, then pinch the flesh part of the nose for at least 10 minutes to stem the bleeding point. If the bleeding persists consult the hospital casualty department.


Sore Throats/Tonsillitis

Sore throats almost invariably get better within a few days whatever treatment is given.  Most are caused by viruses that do not respond to antibiotics. Take Paracetamol and suck lozenges for relief of symptoms.



Elevate the injured limb and apply a cold compress or ice pack to reduce swelling. Take regular painkillers.



Sunburn is harmful particularly to a child’s skin. Avoid it at all costs by covering up with light, loose clothing (including a sun-hat) and using a high factor sun cream on exposed areas. Treat as for burns.



In small children it is important to stop the temperature rising too quickly and children should be given Paracetamol syrup, which may be bought from the chemist. If they still appear hot they should be undressed and gently sponged with tepid water in order to cool them down. If the temperature is very high and does not come down with the above treatment, consult your doctor. A child or adult with a temperature will not come to any harm being brought to the surgery. It is often the quickest way to see a doctor.