Self-treatment of Common Illnesses & Accidents

 <strong>Burns and Scalds</strong>

Apply large quantities of cold water to the burn as soon as possible and maintain this for several minutes. A loose dressing is suitable for unbroken or mildly blistered skin. Larger burns and burns in children should be seen by a nurse or doctor.

 <strong>Coughs, Colds and Sore Throats</strong>

No magic cure has been found for these common ailments. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. Aspirin (DO NOT GIVE ASPIRIN TO UNDER 12s) or Paracetamol, soothing drinks and other, over the the counter remedies, help relieve the symptoms until they pass in a day or so naturally.


Usually accompanies coughs and colds, Paracetamol will relieve the pain. If symptoms persist, especially with children, consult your doctor at the next surgery session.

 <strong>Head Lice</strong>

Very common in children, head lice prefer clean hair and are not a sign of poor hygiene. Speak to your pharmacist about ‘wet combing’ and for lotions that are available.


Some children may get these at some stage. An itching bottom at night is the most common complaint. Threadworms resemble small pieces of white cotton. Your chemist can advise you about treatment.

 <strong>Head Injuries / Concussion</strong>

Most bumps on the head cause no damage. A slight headache can be helped with Paracetamol. If the patient is knocked out for more than a few seconds, consult your doctor. He may advise that the patient is taken to hospital if a more serious injury is suspected even though the patient can at first appear well.

 <strong>Insect Bites & Stings</strong>

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.

 <strong>Chicken Pox</strong>

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 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.

 <strong>Diarrhoea / Vomiting</strong>

In adults, diarrhoea is usually caused by a virus infection and is therefore unable to be treated directly. Holiday diarrhoea is often due to bacteria.

In both the above cases consult your doctor if the symptoms persist for more than a few days.

Diarrhoea in very young children and babies needs careful attention. Most babies have loose bowel actions during the first six months, due to their predominantly liquid diet. If the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, or are accompanied by vomiting or weakness, consult your doctor.

 <strong>Nose Bleeds</strong>

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 food for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

 <strong>Minor Cuts & Grazes</strong>

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 5 minutes. Cover with a clean dressing.

 <strong>Stomach Ache</strong>

Most attacks are not serious and are usually caused by indigestion or wind. A hot water bottle will often relieve the symptoms and in the case of indigestion, a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a half a glass of water will help.

If the pain lasts for longer than 8 hours or increases in intensity you should consult your doctor.


Gastroenteritis describes a group of diseases affecting the stomach or part of the intestine. Symptoms are often diarrhoea, sickness and stomach ache. Because the lining of the stomach is likely to be inflamed, medicines are often immediately vomited up.

Large quantities of water, should be taken to counter the effects of dehydration.

Consult your doctor if the symptoms persist more than a day or, in the case of babies or young children, 6 hours.

 <strong>German Measles (Rubella)</strong><br>

The rash appears during the first day and usually covers the body, arms and legs in small pink patches about 2-4mm and doesn’t itch. No other symptoms are usually present apart from occasional aching joints.

It is infectious from 2 days before the rash appears, until the rash disappears in about 4 or 5 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.


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 2 or 3 days before the rash appears until 8 or 10 days after that date. Immunisation can prevent this disease.


Symptoms are swelling of the glands in front of one or other ear often followed, after a couple of days, by swelling in front of the other ear. It is infectious from 2 or 3 days before the swelling appears until 8 or 10 days after the date. If the pain is severe you should consult your doctor.

 <strong>Back Pain</strong>

Because of the complex nature of the spine it is advisable to consult your doctor if back pain persists for more than a few days. If, as is usual, the pain has been caused by abuse, i.e. lifting too heavy weights etc., be sensible and take things easy. Take care to sit as upright as possible with a support for the small of the back.

Take aspirin or Paracetamol, which will not only relieve the pain but will help relieve the inflammation. Your doctor may well prescribe stronger drugs, heat treatment, gentle exercise or some kind of supportive corset.


R.I.C.E. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. A cold compress with ice (a bag of frozen peas) applied over the strain for 30 minutes reduces and prevents swelling. (Do not apply the ice directly, wrap in a suitable towel or similar material first). A crepe bandage and elevation continued until all swelling subsides. Gradual resumption of movements and exercise over a few days is recommended.


Treat as other burns. Calamine lotion and Paracetamol will help. Avoidance especially in children is most important. High factor sun-block and hats etc are advisable in all but the mildest of exposure to the harmful effects of the sun.