Taking Care Of Yourself At Home
Helpful information and guidance for patients waiting for a hospital consultation, treatment or surgery.
Acne is a common condition. It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes red and painful skin.
If you have acne, do not wash your face more than twice a day. Use gentle soap and lukewarm water and resist the temptation to pick and squeeze your spots. Use water based products on your skin and try to keep your hair away from your face.
In the first instance, consult your pharmacist about your acne. If the over the counter products advised do not work, or you feel your acne is severe, please request an appointment via our online form. It would be helpful if you are able to send photos.
You can get chicken pox at any age, though it is more common on young children. The infection will start with small red spots anywhere on the body, they will then blister and scab. You can usually manage the symptoms at home without needing to consult a clinician: Stay well hydrated, use paracetamol to help with any pain and discomfort, keep fingernails short, use cooling creams and gels from your local pharmacy, consult your pharmacist about antihistamines, bathe in cool water and wear loose clothes.
If there are any areas of redness that are hot to touch, bleeding or discharge, or if the symptoms get worse very quickly, please get in touch.
Conjunctivitis usually affects both eyes and makes them red, burn or feel gritty, produce yellow pus, itch and water.
A pharmacist can help you with over the counter treatment. However please get in touch with us if you think your child under 2 has conjunctivitis or your symptoms do not improve with over the counter treatment after two weeks.
Most coughs are caused by a virus. You can treat yourself at home with rest, plenty of fluids, paracetamol and Ibuprofen for any pain and hot lemon and honey (not suitable for children under 1).
Please get in touch with us if:
- The cough has been ongoing for over three weeks
- Your cough is productive with yellow, red or green mucus
- You feel very unwell
- You have chest pain
- You feel breathless or wheezy
Our clinicians are not trained or indemnified to treat dental problems. We will not be able to prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat dental problems, you will need to get in touch with your dental practice.
If they are fully booked, or you are in between practices and need urgent treatment, you can call 111 who will be able to arrange the appropriate help.
Diarrhoea and Vomiting
Do you or your child have diarrhoea and vomiting?
Norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK. It's also called the "winter vomiting bug" because it's more common in winter, although you can catch it at any time of the year.
Norovirus can be very unpleasant but it usually clears up by itself in a few days.
You can normally look after yourself or your child at home.
Most ear pain will self-resolve within a week. You can use over the counter pain relief to treat the discomfort. Please get in touch with us if you also have:
- A fever
- Redness, swelling or discharge coming from your ear
Ear wax usually falls out on its own, however it can occasionally build up causing hearing loss, earache or a feeling if fullness, ringing or buzzing in your ears and/or feeling dizzy and sick.
You can soften the wax, encouraging it to fall out by using medical grade olive or almond oil twice a day. We would recommend doing this for at least two weeks if the wax does not soften and fall out before then.
Please request an appointment with one of the practice nurses if the build-up does not clear after two weeks, or sooner if you have a fever, swelling, redness or discharge coming from the ear.
A fever is a raised body temperature over 38 degrees celcius. A fever is not an illness - it is the body's response to try and fight off an infection.
Fever in itself is not dangerous. You do not need to treat a fever if your child is happy, eating/drinking and comfortable, and you do not need to get their temperature to normal. However most children with a fever do feel quite poorly so you may wish to give them medicine to make them feel better. You can use children's paracetamol (Calpol) or ibuprofen (Nurofen). You can use both if required - but please be extremely careful that you are not giving either medicine more often than it says on the packaging - it is safest to write down the times and doses so you do not get mixed up. If you aren't sure stick to one medicine.
We do not recommend sponging a child with water to cool them - this can cause shivering which will actually raise the body temperature. Dress them in light clothing. Try to encourage them to drink plenty of fluids, and have ice lollies, smoothies or soups and other things with plenty of liquid.
Most children with a fever have a minor viral illness that will get better on its own after a few days. They may have other symptoms of an infection such as a cold or upset tummy. However in some cases a fever may be caused by something more serious.
If your child is under 3 months old and has had a fever of more than 38 degrees Celsius and they haven't just had their vaccinations please let us know so we can get them checked by a GP.
If your child is under 6 months old and has had a fever of more than 39 degrees Celsius and they haven't just had their vaccinations please let us know so we can get them checked by a GP.
If your child has any of the following symptoms you should speak to a GP today (or via 111 when we are closed):
- has a high temperature that's lasted for 5 days or more
- seems lethargic/not their usual self despite Calpol or Nurofen
- is dehydrated – such as nappies that are not very wet or, sunken eyes, and no tears when they're crying
- Does not have any symptoms of an infection, other than a fever
If your child has any of the following they need to go to A+E now - call 999 if necessary
- has a stiff and painful neck
- has a rash that does not fade when you press a glass against it (use the "glass test" from Meningitis Now)
- is really bothered by light/it hurts their eyes
- has a fit for the first time
- has unusually cold hands and feet
- has not passed urine in over 12 hours
- has blue, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue
- has a weak, high-pitched cry that's not like their normal cry
- is drowsy and hard to wake
- is extremely agitated (does not stop crying) or is confused
- finds it hard to breathe and sucks their stomach in under their ribs or is breathing really fast even when resting
You may find these resources helpful:
If any of the above concerning features apply to your child, or you are worried about anything else please request an appointment via the online form.
Having Trouble Sleeping?
The most common causes of trouble sleeping are stress, anxiety or depression, an uncomfortable sleeping environment, alcohol or drugs, jet lag and shift work.
You can try keeping to a consistent routine, winding down at least an hour before bed (avoiding screens), making sure your bedroom is quiet and dark and regular exercise. It is best not to have caffeine within 6 hours or exercise within 4 hours of bedtime.
Your pharmacist can help you with some over the counter sleep remedies to help you to get in to a regular sleeping pattern, however these should not be used for longer than two weeks.
Please get in touch with us if you have been having difficulty sleeping for longer than two weeks, or if you are struggling to cope with your daily activities due to sleep deprivation.
We would advise trying the following measures to manage your hayfever:
- Shower, wash your hair and change your on returning home after being outside
- Avoid drying your clothes outdoors
- Keep windows and doors closed until evening time
- Wear sunglasses outdoors
- Use allergy barrier balm or vaseline inside the nostrils to trap pollen when outside
Hayfever medicines work in different ways so often using several different types is most effective. Try to start the medicines before your symptoms begin for the year. Try to use the medicine regularly.
- All commonly recommended antihistamines are now available over the counter and online without a prescription. These include Chlorphenamine, Cetirizine, Loratadine, Acrivastine and Fexofenadine. Many people find Fexofenadine most effective - and this is what GPs used to prescribe - but if needed try several and see which works best for you. You do not need to buy branded versions - the generic ones work just as well. You can get a years supply of Cetirizine from Amazon for £9 - whereas 14 Piriteze tablets, which are the same medicine, are £5.50 in supermarkets.
- Nasal sprays. There are a variety of different kinds. Some are not medicated and just rinse pollen out of the nose e.g. Sterimar. Some are decongestants e.g. Otrivine (these should only be used for a few days at a time). Many are steroid based e.g. Beconase, Pirinase, Rhinacort. The steroid nasal sprays are most effective. They can be used on their own or alongside antihistamines and/or eye drops.
- Eye drops. These again can be medicated or non-medicated. Some just soothe irritation e.g. Optrex. Some are similar to antihistamines e.g. Opticrom
These medicines are what GPs use to treat hayfever. There is now very little available to treat hayfever that you cannot get without a prescription either from a pharmacy, supermarket or online.
Some people experience very severe symptoms. If your symptoms are not controlled when you have tried regularly using an antihistamine tablet (preferably Fexofenadine), a steroid nasal spray and anti-allergy eye drops you will need to discuss your treatment with a GP.
A word on 'hayfever injections'. These are injections of a long acting steroid medicine (Kenalog). They are no longer available on the NHS due to lack of evidence of effectiveness, and concerns about side effects. They have been associated with skin and muscle damage, water retention, high blood pressure and worsening of underlying medical conditions. You can still source these privately if you wish to do so. Should you wish to consider this please do ensure you book with a reputable source ideally a private doctor. Many beautician clinics offer them and may have no medical training (it's also illegal unless they are supervised by a doctor or nurse prescriber!).
You may find these resources helpful:
Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat. It can cause an unpleasant taste in your mouth, coughing, hiccups, bloating or feeling sick.
Potential causes could be certain foods such as tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, fatty or spicy foods, being overweight, smoking, pregnancy, stress, hormones, medication or a hiatus hernia.
Simple lifestyle changes can help your heartburn symptoms, such as avoiding foods that could trigger symptoms, eating smaller meals and trying to reduce stress. A pharmacist can help you with these symptoms.
Request an appointment with us if lifestyle changes are not working, if you have heartburn most days for over three weeks or if you have other symptoms such as food getting stuck in your throat.
Sinusitis is swelling of the sinuses, usually caused by an infection. This will usually clear on its own in 2-3 weeks, however can sometimes need treatment with medicine.
Symptoms of sinusitis include; pain, swelling or tenderness around your forehead, eyes and/or cheeks, a fever, green or yellow mucus from your nose, toothache and/or bad breath.
Get in touch with us if you:
- Are experiencing severe symptoms that are not helped with pain relief
- Do not start feeling better after a week
- Keep getting sinusitis
Most sore throats are caused by a virus. You can ease your symptoms at home by gargling salt water (not suitable for children), using over the counter pain relief, keeping well hydrated and resting.
Get in touch with us if you have:
- A fever
- White spots at the back of your throat
- If your symptoms do not improve after a week
- You have a weakened immune system
You need to seek urgent medical attention if you or your child:
- Are finding it hard to swallow or breathe
- Are drooling
- Are making a high pitched sound when you breathe
- Have severe symptoms that are worsening quickly
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains are common injuries affecting muscles and ligaments causing pain and tenderness usually around the ankle, knee, thumb, back or wrist. The affected area can be swollen and/or bruised and you might find it difficult to weight bare or use the injured area normally.
You can treat these symptoms yourself with RICE therapy:
- Rest – Do not exercise and avoid putting weight on the injury if possible
- Ice – Apply an ice pack (or bag of veg from the freezer wrapped in a tea towel) on the affected area for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours.
- Compression – wrap a bandage around the injury to support it.
- Elevate – Keep it raised on a pillow as much as possible.
To prevent swelling try to avoid heat such as hot baths for the first couple of days. Once the pain has eased enough for you to move the area, try to keep moving to avoid it getting stiff.
Your pharmacist can help you with advice on pain management. You should feel better after about 2 weeks, however severe strains and sprains can take months to feel better. Avoid exercise on the affected area for at least 8 weeks.
Threadworms are tiny worms in your poo or around the bottom that look like pieces of white thread. They can cause extreme itching, especially at night. You can get treatment from your pharmacist for patients over 2.
Treatment will eradicate the worms in the body but you will need to be careful to avoid re-infection from their eggs which can be on surfaces around the home. You can do this by washing hands well regularly, thoroughly cleaning commonly used surfaces and toys, wash all sheets and sleepwear on a hot setting and vacuum and dust.
Verrucas are unfortunately extremely common and can be very stubborn to get rid of! Verrucas are viral warts which grow inwards on the foot due to the pressure of walking. The body will eventually get rid of it on it's own but it can take a very long time - sometimes years. Locally the NHS does not provide any specific treatment for warts and verrucas. We used to do cryotherapy (freezing treatment) but it is no longer available as it was very painful, had a risk of scarring and was not always effective. The main treatment options we have are:
Doing nothing. If the verruca is not painful/annoying they can be just left alone and eventually the body treats the infection on it's own and they go away
Over the counter paints/gels/ointments e.g. Bazuka. These can be very effective but you need to use them for quite a while. You need to soak the foot in warm water for about 10 minutes to soften the hardened skin around the verruca and then file it away with a pumice stone or emery board before applying the treatment. Use vaseline or similar on the healthy skin around the verruca before application as it can burn healthy tissue. Allow the treatment to dry to a hard crust before putting on socks/shoes or walking around.
Freeze spray e.g. Wartner. Similar to the cryotherapy treatment it freezes the verruca. Can be too painful to use on young children and not always very effective.
Duct tape - odd but some people swear by it! Basically do the same as before using Bazuka but place a piece of duct tape over the verruca. Replace the tape daily and do the soaking/filing weekly. No strong evidence it works but very simple to do.
There is some evidence that Zinc supplements can be helpful.
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