Pharmacies and Self Care

What is self care?

Self-care is about keeping fit and healthy, understanding when you can look after yourself, when a pharmacist can help, and when to get advice from your GP or another health professional. Self care can be applied to self limiting conditions and minor illnesses:

  • A self-limiting condition does not require any medical advice or treatment as it will clear up on its own, such as sore throats, coughs, colds and viruses
  • A minor illness that is suitable for self-care can be treated with items that can be purchased over the counter from a community pharmacy or obtained via the pharmacist.

Pharmacy for Minor Illnesses

Pharmacists have years of medical knowledge and skills to help with many healthcare conditions. No appointment is required.
Visiting a pharmacist first helps to make more GP appointments available for people with more complex healthcare needs. You GP practice may refer you to the pharmacy for a consultation if you contact them about minor conditions.
If your condition is more serious, the pharmacist is trained to signpost you quickly to the right medical care.
Common minor illnesses which can be easily treated at a pharmacy include:

Self-limiting illnesses:

  • Acute sore throat
  • Infrequent cold sores of the lip
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Coughs, colds and nasal congestion
  • Cradle Cap (Seborrhoeic dermatitis – infants)
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Infant colic
  • Mild cystitis

Minor illnesses suitable for self-care:

  • Mild irritant dermatitis
  • Dandruff
  • Diarrhoea (adults)
  • Dry eyes/sore (tired) eyes
  • Earwax
  • Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • Head lice
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Infrequent constipation
  • Infrequent migraine
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Mild acne
  • Mild dry skin
  • Sunburn
  • Sunburn protection
  • Mild to moderate hay fever/seasonal rhinitis
  • Minor burns and scalds
  • Minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and/fever (e.g. aches and sprains, headache, period pain, back pain)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nappy rash
  • Oral thrush
  • Prevention of tooth decay or cavities
  • Ringworm/athletes foot
  • Teething/mild toothache
  • Threadworms
  • Travel sickness
  • Warts and verrucae

Items of limited clinical effectiveness:

  • Probiotics
  • Vitamins and minerals

Find a pharmacy

Click here to use the NHS website ‘Find a Pharmacy’ search tool which will list pharmacies near your postcode.


Page Updated: 25/08/2023