Minor Ailments & Treatments

Back Pain

Back pain causes 13 million days to be lost in Britain each year. The spine is made up of 24 bones and associated cartilage and tendons support the whole weight of the upper body and, therefore it is understandable that it sometimes goes wrong. If, as is usual, the pain has been caused by abuse such as lifting too heavy a weight or not keeping the back straight when lifting, it is sensible to 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 help relieve the pain but help to relieve the inflammation.

Burns & Scalds

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 broken and blistered, apply a loose, dry dressing. If the burn is larger tham 4 or 5 inches in diameter or if the skin is broken, see the Practice Nurse.

Chicken Pox

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 time is from 2-4 days before the rash appears and up to 5 days after this period. Children may return to school as soon as the last ‘crusts’ have dropped off.


Even in this day and age there is still no magic cure for a viral illness such as the common cold. Take plenty of fluids. If you have a headache or are feverish, take Paracetamol (or Apirin in adults only). Do not bother to take any antibiotics you may have in the house — these will have no effect. Steam and menthol inhalation will help to relieve nasal congestion and stuffiness.


Coughs are common symptoms and are usually associated with viral illnesses such as colds. They are the body’s way of clearing bronchial secretions. Over the counter medications from the chemist will often soothe the symptoms. Soft soothing drinks will also help relieve sever soreness. If the symptoms persist you should consult your Doctor.

Diarrhoea & Vomiting

This is usually caused by a viral infection. The virus frequently gives gripy pains, there is no direct treatment. It is important to rest and to take small amounts, very frequently, of clear fluids to counter the effect of dehydration. If the patient becomes generally very ill in themselves and particularly in the case of babies or young children they become drowsy, it is important to consult a doctor.


This can often be distressing, the most important treatment is pain relief and should be treated with Paracetamol. If symptoms persist you should contact the Doctor at the next surgery session.

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 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 4-5 days. The only danger is to unborn babies, therefore immunisation against the disease is vitally important. Before considering pregnancy women should have a blood test to check whether they are protected from the disease. Recent research has shown that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and Autism or bowel disease.


These creatures, contrary to popular belief, prefer clean hair and are, therefore, not a sign of poor personal hygiene. All treatment for headlice can be obtained from the chemist without prescription.

Insect Bites & Stings

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


This usually causes high temperature, cough and sore eyes before the rash appears until about 10 days after that period. The rash is blotchy and red and appears on the face and body. It is contagious from 2-3 days before the rash appears until about 10 days after that period. Complications of measles include otitis media, bronchitis, pneumonia, convulsions and encepahalitis. Measles fatalities are age related, being highest in children under 1 year, lowest in the 1-9 age group, then rising with advancing years. Immunisation can prevent this disease. Recent research has shown that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and Autism or bowel disease.

Minor Cuts & 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 5 minutes. Cover with a clean, dry dressing.


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 2-3 days before to around 5 days after the swelling appears. If the pain is severe, you should consult your doctor. Immunisation can prevent this disease. Recent research has shown that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and Autism or bowel disease.

Nose Bleeds

Sit in a chair (leaning forward with your mouth open) and pinch your nose just below the bone for approximately 20 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped. Avoid hot drinks or food for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

Sore Throats

Sore throats are common and usually caused by a virus. Symptomatic relief with Paracetamol or other soothing medication from the chemist is usually all that is required. If the sore throat persists longer than 5 days or if the patient is generally very ill, advice should be sought from the doctor.


First apply a cold compress, containing ice if possible for 15-30 minutes to reduce the swelling. Apply firmly, a crepe bandage and give the sprain plenty of rest until the discomfort has subsided. Further strain will inevitably lead to further swelling and a longer recover period. Thereafter, as much exercise as possible to encourage healing and strengthen the joint.

Stomach Ache

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


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. Hydrocortisone cream bought from the chemist will help relieve the symptoms. Prevention is better than cure. Always use a high factor sunscreen to protect yourself.


A temperature occurs commonly even in mild infections. In small children it is important to stop the temperature rising too quickly and children should be given Paracetamol syrup, which may be bought from the chemist. If they still appear to be hot, they should be gently sponged with tepid water in order to cool them. If a temperature is very high and does not come down with the above treatment or the child appears very unwell, you should consult your doctor. A child or adult with a temperature will not come to any harm being wrapped up and brought by car or pram to the surgery.


A common complaint, usually starting with an itchy bottom and small worms like pieces of white cotton can be seen at the anus or in the stools. Treatment is available from the chemist. All the family should be treated.