Choose the Right Care?


Your local pharmacist can help with many minor ailments such as coughs and colds, hay fever and period pain. They can give advice or, where appropriate, medicines that can help to clear up the problem. Instead of booking an appointment with your GP, you can see your local pharmacist any time: just walk in.

Always follow the directions on medicine packets and information leaflets, and never exceed the stated dose. If you have further questions about any of these medicines or you want to buy them, ask your local pharmacist. Always keep medicines out of the sight and reach of children. A high and lockable cupboard in a cool, dry place is ideal. Regularly check the expiry dates. If a medicine is past its use-by date, don't use it or throw it away. Take it to your pharmacy, where it can be disposed of safely.

If you are taking any other medicines or have a medical condition please check with your pharmacist or GP first. For medicines which are prescribed to you never share them with anyone else and for regular medicines only order what you need.

Below are some over the counter medicines that maybe helpful to keep in your cabinet. This list is not exhaustive, but it will help you deal with most minor ailments.

Pain relief

Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are highly effective at relieving most minor aches and pains, such as headaches and menstrual pain. Aspirin must not be given to children under 16.  These medicines also help with some minor ailments, such as the common cold, by reducing aches and pains and high temperatures. These medicines also help to reduce the inflammation in arthritis and sprains.


These are useful for dealing with allergies (including hay fever), insect bites and may help to calm itchiness during chickenpox. Some antihistamine tablets may cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about this: pharmacists may have antihistamines that don't cause drowsiness.

Indigestion treatment

If you have stomach ache, heartburn or trapped wind, a simple antacid will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief. Antacids come as chewable tablets, or tablets that dissolve in water, or in liquid form.


Keep a lotion of at least factor 15. Even brief exposure to the sun can cause sunburn and increase your risk of skin cancer. Ensure that your suncreen provides UVA protection. You can protect yourself further against the sun by wearing a hat and sunglasses, and by avoiding the sun during the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm. 

First aid

As well as the medicines discussed above, keep a well-prepared first aid kit. This can help to treat minor cuts, sprains and bruises, and it can reduce the risk of cuts becoming infected. It should contain the following items:

o    Bandages: these can support injured limbs, such as or sprains. They also apply direct pressure to larger cuts before getting them treated in hospital.

o    Plasters: a range of sizes, waterproof if possible.

o    Thermometer: digital thermometers that you put in your mouth produce very accurate readings. A thermometer placed under the arm is a good way to read a baby's temperature.

o    Antiseptic: this can be used to clean cuts before they're dressed (bandaged). Most can treat a range of conditions, including insect stings, ulcers and pimples. Alcohol-free antiseptic wipes are useful to clean cuts.

o    Eyewash solution: this will help to wash out grit or dirt in the eyes.

o    Sterile dressings: larger injuries should be covered with a sterile dressing to prevent infection until treatment can be given by a health professional.

o    Medical tape: this is used to secure dressings. Tweezers: for taking out splinters. If splinters are left in, they can cause discomfort and become infected.

o    British Red Cross: For information on first aid and the British Red Cross:  British Red Cross interactive guide.  (This interactive guide is about Baby and Child first Aid)

Adapted from NHS Choices.



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