Minor health conditions are not serious and you can often treat them yourself by resting at home and sometimes using over the counter medicines from your local pharmacist. We call this self care.
What are minor health conditions?
Minor health conditions include:
- coughs and colds
- conjunctivitis and other minor eye conditions
- dry eyes
- ear wax
- hay fever (read the patient information leaflet or support slide)
- indigestion and heartburn
- mild dry skin
- mouth ulcers
- nappy rash
- sore throats
Visit the Health A-Z for more advice on specific conditions. Read more about minor health conditions, as well as self care in south west London.
Self care is also about looking after yourself when you are well. This could be anything from brushing your teeth, cutting back on drinking alcohol, stopping smoking or doing some exercise.
How self care helps
- One in every five GP visits and many visits to accident and emergency are for minor health conditions which could be treated with rest and advice from a pharmacist.
- Self care helps to free up some of your GP or nurse’s time, making it easier to get an appointment when you have a more serious or complex condition.
- Every time you see a GP it costs the NHS £36 on average, while a visit to accident and emergency can cost £130.
- Self care helps ease the pressure on NHS services by managing most minor health conditions at home or with support from your community pharmacist.
- Reducing the amount spent by your local NHS on medicines that are available for patients to buy over the counter and avoiding unnecessary GP appointments means that resources can be used to help those with more complex conditions.
Over the counter medicines
Over the counter medicines are best for minor health conditions. These can include medicines for hay fever, sunscreens, creams for insect stings and bites, as well pain relief medicines and cough and cold remedies. These can be bought from pharmacies and local shops without a prescription. They’re also often cheaper this way. You can get them without an appointment or seeing a doctor.
In 2017 the NHS stopped prescribing health supplements and medications that can be bought over the counter for minor conditions, self-limiting and short-term illnesses.
More about prescriptions for over the counter medicines
Your pharmacist can give you advice about how to manage minor health conditions and what medications to use. Most pharmacists have a private consultation area where you can have a confidential discussion.
If your health condition is more serious and needs the attention of another healthcare professional, such as your GP, the pharmacist can advise you about this.
Visit the Medicines A-Z for more advice about medicines.
We encourage you to buy a range of over the counter medicines that are suitable for you and your family, and to keep them at home, so they will be available when you need them. Your local pharmacist can advise which medicines are most appropriate for you and your family.
Check your medicine cabinet, or create one, and make sure you have the following basics:
- painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen
- sore throat, coughs, colds and flu medications
- heartburn and indigestion remedies
- anti-diarrhoea and constipation medication
- antihistamines (for a mild allergy)
- rehydration salts
- pile (haemorrhoid) treatment
- first aid kit, including plasters, bandages, a thermometer and antiseptic cream
Please help the NHS to use resources in the best way.