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Common Illnesses & Self Treatments


Firstly a note on these commonly prescribed and powerful medicines. They only work on bacteria and are without effect on viruses. Unfortunately, therefore, common infections like colds and flu etc will not be helped by them at all. The correct treatment is the simple remedies outlined on the next page and we only use antibiotics when they fail and we suspect that there is a secondary bacterial Infection. Over use of antibiotics may lead to their not working in future (antibiotic resistance) and more complications like thrush and skin rashes etc.

Back Pain

Back pain causes 13 million working days to be lost in Britain each year. The spine, being made up of 24 fragile bones and associated cartilage and tendons, supports the whole weight of the upper body and, therefore, it is understandable that it sometimes goes wrong. Because of the complex nature of the spine, it is advisable to consult your doctor if back pain persists. Meanwhile, take care to sit as upright as possible with a support for the small of the back and sleep on a firm bed. Take Aspirin or Paracetamol, if these are safe for you, which will not only relieve the pain but will help to relieve inflammation. Your doctor may well prescribe stronger drugs, physiotherapy or other treatment.


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 you are concerned, consult the doctor and take some pain relieving medication.


On the first day a rash appears as small red patches about 3-4 mm across. Within a few hours of these developing, small blisters appear in the centre of these patches. During the next 3 or 4 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 2 or 3 days before the rash appears and up to 5 days after this date. Children may return to school as soon as the last ‘crusts’ have dropped off.

Childhood Rashes

If your child is basically well but has a rash, this is usually due to a virus and this will settle untreated, in only a couple of days. We would want to see the child if he/she is ill with the rash.


Even in this day and age there is still no magic cure for the common cold. If you have a headache or are feverish, take Paracetamol and plenty of drinks. Do not bother to take any antibiotics you may have in the house – these will have no effect!


There is no satisfactory treatment for an irritant cough and most will clear up on their own. However, you may wish to take cough linctus. If you feel unwell, make an appointment to see the doctor.


Diarrhea is often caused by a virus infection and most episodes settle on their own. Take plenty of fluids. If symptoms are very sever or persist for more than a week, seek advice. Taking fluids only, for 24 hours often helps.

Insect Bites & 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.

Minor Cuts & Grazes

Wash the wound with water and a little soap. To stop bleeding, apply a clean handkerchief firmly to the wound for about 5 minutes. Cover with clean, dry dressing.

Nose Bleeds

Sit in a chair (leaning forward with your mouth open) and pinch your nostrils for approximately 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped. Avoid hot drinks or food for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor or attend the local A & E department.


First, apply a cold compress, containing ice if possible, for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce 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.


Treat as for other burns with cold water to remove the heat. Calamine lotion will relieve the irritation, whilst Paracetamol will also help. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and great care should be taken to avoid over-exposure to the harmful effects of the sun. Sunbathing is bad for the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer. Remember to apply sun screen of Factor 20 or above as protection.


Children often run temperature with no other symptoms, They need to be cooled down and then will feel much better. So do remove their clothes down to vest and pants and keep the room temperature down. Us Paracetamol syrup etc and if necessary sponge them with lukewarm – not cold – water or blow them with a fan. If there is no improvement or the child is unwell, then make an appointment.

Pharmacy First Barnsley CCG NHS  


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