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The family medicine cabinet

All medicines should be kept in a locked cupboard out of reach of children. Medicines should be checked periodically to see that they haven't gone out of date. Left over medicines may lose their effect and should not be kept 'just in case'.

Adhesive dressings

 

 

 

  • for minor cuts


Antiseptic solution

  • for cleanibg cuts and grazes


Aspirin or paracetamol tablets

  • useful for headaches,colds, sore throats and painful bruises.


Calamine lotion

  • for treating insects bites and stings, and sunburn


Cotton wool

  • for cleanibg cuts and grazes


Menthol crystals

  • for mixture with hot water to make steam inhalations for treating dry or painful coughs and catarrh.


Paracetamol mixture

  • relief of fever or pain in children.


Rehydration sachets

  • useful for treating diarrhoea in small children.


Sedative cough mixture

  • for painful or dry coughs, but not for coughs caused by colds.


Thermometer

  • for taking temperature.


Vapour rub

  • for steam inhalations and rubbing on chest and nose for stuffy noses and dry coughs.


Wide crepe bandage

  • to support bruised or sprained joints


You can treat many minor ailments such as colds, coughs ands indigestion by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home. We suggest you keep the following at home:
  • Paracetamol and aspirin (children under 16 and people with asthma should NOT take aspirin)
  • Mild laxatives
  • Anti-diarrhoeal medicines
  • Rehydration mixture
  • Indigestion remedy (i.e. antacids)
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Sunscreen SPF 15 or higher
  • Sunburn treatment i.e. Calamine
  • Tweezers and sharp scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Selection of plasters, non absorbent cotton wool, elastic bandages and dressings.

Treatment of minor ailments

 

Vomiting

It is important to rest the stomach completely by not eating or drinking for two to three hours. After that time commence taking small sips of clear fluid (may be flavoured but not fizzy) every two to three minutes (large volumes too soon may cause more vomiting).
If vomiting persists you should seek help. Likewise severe pain needs attention. If diarrhoea is also present, then treat as above with only clear fluids for 24 hours and gradually reintroduce milk and then food the next day.

 

Diarrhoea

In general, diarrhoea is not dangerous as long as fluids stay down, but if in doubt contact the doctor.
Diarrhoea in very young children and babies needs careful attention. Most babies have loose bowel action during their first six months due to their predominantly liquid diet. Sudden bouts of unusually watery diarrhoea should be treated by taking the baby off solids and milk for 24 hours and then gradually putting back on to their milk - quarter strength, then half strength, then full strength. Powder sachets are available for bad diarrhoea but in general children will not take them due to the taste.

 

Burns

Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until the pain subsides. This may take as long as 15 minutes! If the skin is unbroken but blistered, apply a loose, dry dressing. If the burn is larger than 4 or 5 inches in diameter or if the skin is broken, consult your practice as soon as possible.

 

Minor Cuts and Grazes

Wash the wound thoroughly with water and a little soap. To stop bleeding apply a clean handkerchief or dressing firmly to the wound for about five minutes. Cover with a clean dry dressing. Antibiotic powders and creams are not required routinely for clean cuts.

 

Colds/Flu/Sore Throats

Even in this day and age there is still no magic cure for the common cold. Go to bed, take plenty of drinks. If you have a headache or are feverish take paracetamol. Steam inhalations and certain cough bottles help dry coughs. Menthol rubs are also useful. A decongestant will help dry up phlegm. Antibiotics do not help temperatures or viruses.

 

Sprains

Firstly apply a cold compress, containing ice if possible, for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the swelling. Apply, firmly, a crepe bandage and give the sprain plenty of rest until all discomfort has subsided. Further strain will inevitably lead to further swelling and a longer recovery period.

 

Nose Bleeds

Sit in a chair (leaning forward with your mouth open) and pinch your nose just below the bone for approximately 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped.
Avoid hot drinks or hot food for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

 

Insect Bites and Stings

Antihistamine tablets can be obtained from the chemist without prescription and will usually relieve most symptoms. Note: bee stings should be scraped away rather than ‘plucked’ in order to avoid squeezing the contents of the venom sac into the wound.

 

Head Lice

These creatures, contrary to popular belief, prefer clean hair and are, therefore, not a sign of poor personal hygiene. Medicated head lotion can be obtained from the chemist without prescription. Hair should be fine-combed weekly - only treat when head lice or nits (eggs) are found in the home. Nits do not require treatment but treat those with live walkers twice.

 

Chickenpox

On the first day a rash appears as small red patches about 3-4mm across. Within a few hours of these developing, small blisters appear in the centre of these patches. During the next three or four days further patches will appear and the earlier ones will turn ‘crusty’ and fall off.
Oily calamine lotion may be applied to soothe the often severe itching. Cool baths may also help. The most infectious period is from two or three days before the rash appears and up to five days after this date. Children may return to school as soon as the last ‘crusts’ have dropped off.

 

German measles (Rubella)

The rash appears during the first day and usually covers the body, arms and legs in small pink patches about 2-4mm across and doesn’t itch. No other symptoms are usually present apart from occasional aching joints.
It is infectious from two days before the rash appears, until the rash disappears in about four or five days from that date. The only danger is to unborn babies and, therefore, it is important that all contacts are informed in order that anyone who may be pregnant can contact their doctor. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

 

Measles

The rash is blotchy and red and appears on the face and body around the fourth day of illness. It is at its most infectious from two or three days before the rash appears until eight or ten days after that date. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

 

Mumps

Symptoms are swelling of the glands in front of one ear often followed, after a couple of days, by swelling in front of the other ear. It is infectious from two or three days before the swelling appears until eight or ten days after that date. If the pain is severe you should consult your doctor. Immunisation can prevent this disease.