Common problems your pharmacist can help with
Every year, millions of us visit our GP with minor health problems that our local pharmacist could resolve.
It is estimated that every year, 50 million visits to the GP are made for minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema and athlete’s foot.
But by visiting your pharmacy instead, you could save yourself time and trouble.
Instead of booking and waiting for a GP appointment, you can visit your local pharmacist any time – just walk in.
All pharmacists can recognise many common health complaints. They can give advice or, where appropriate, medicines that will help clear up the problem.
If your problem is more serious and needs the attention of a GP, your pharmacist will recognise this and advise you to see your GP instead.
What’s more, many pharmacies are open in the evenings and on the weekends.
If everybody went to a pharmacist with common health problems, more time would be freed up for our GPs. This might make it easier to get a convenient appointment with your GP next time you need one.
So, if you have a common health problem, a trip to your local pharmacy is an option.
Your pharmacist may be able to help with:
- skin conditions, such as mild acne and mild eczema
- coughs and colds, including nasal congestion and sore throat
- minor cuts and bruises
- constipation and haemorrhoids (piles)
- hay fever and allergies
- aches and pains, such as headaches, earache and back pain
- indigestion, diarrhoea and threadworms
- period pain and thrush
- warts and verrucas, mouth ulcers and cold sores
- athlete’s foot
- nappy rash and teething
Some pharmacies also provide truss fittings, stoma products and incontinence supplies.
Go to your GP or a walk-in centre for:
- wound and dressing care
- muscle and joint injuries, including strains and sprains
- minor lacerations and cuts
- infected wounds
Go to accident and emergency (A&E) for:
- head injuries or loss of consciousness
- suturing (stitches)
- foreign bodies
- suspected broken bones or heavy blood loss
- persistent chest pain or difficulty breathing
- overdose or poisoning
If an injury is not serious, you can get help from a minor injuries unit (MIU), rather than going to an A&E department.
Minor ailment services
Some pharmacies run a minor ailment service, which means they can supply medicines for certain conditions on the NHS.
If your pharmacy runs a minor ailment service for eczema, for example, it means your pharmacist can supply medicines for this condition and you’ll only pay the standard prescription charge. If you’re exempt from paying prescription charges – for example, because you’re over 60 – you won’t pay for the medicine at all.
Use our Service search to look for pharmacies in your area. Each pharmacy listing on NHS Choices comes with a “Services” tab, which should list the minor ailment service if the pharmacy has one. Or you can simply ask at your local pharmacy.