Redwell Medical Centre

A-Z of Self-Help

Many simple problems can be treated effectively at home by yourself.  This guide is intended to explain something about common illnesses and how to treat them at home.  However, if you are concerned or they persist you should always contact your doctor or nurse.

More information:

NHS Direct Self-help Guide

Patient UK

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Back Pain

90% of the British population will suffer from back pain at some stage of their lives.  In many instances an acute back strain will settle with a few days of rest.  Simple painkillers such as Paracetamol or Aspirin may help.  If the pain is severe or persists for more than a few days, it is advisable to see your doctor in view of the complex nature of the spine.

Bed Sores

Bed sores are far easier to prevent than cure, and are usually seen in the elderly and infirm.  It is important that somebody confined to bed should change position from time to time.  If a red mark appears at a pressure point, such as heels, elbows, buttocks or hips, it is important to inform the doctor or nurse before they worsen.


Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until the pain subsides.  If the skin is unbroken but blistered apply a loose dry dressing.  If the burn is larger than 4 or 5 cms in diameter, or if the skin is broken, consult your doctor or nurse as soon as possible.  Serious burns need immediate attention at an Accident and Emergency Department.

Coughs and Colds

These can be caused by the many viruses that are always present in the environment.  Unfortunately we still have no magic cure for the common cold.  Symptomatic treatment such as Aspirin or Paracetamol plus plenty of fluids is the most appropriate treatment.  Coughs are most commonly associated with colds and in most instances again have no specific treatment.  If a cough is associated with a persistent temperature, shortness of breath or chest pain, then it is important to consult your doctor.  It is also important to have a persistent cough checked out. 

Cuts and Grazes

Minor cuts and grazes should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.  To stop bleeding apply a clean handkerchief or dressing firmly to the wound for about 5 minutes and cover with a clean dry dressing (eg Elastoplast).  Larger cuts and grazes, especially if they persistently bleed or are very dirty, should be seen in our Treatment Area.  Remember you may need a Tetanus booster.


Chickenpox may start with a non specific illness for 24 hours before any spots are seen.  A typical chickenpox spot starts as a tiny red mark which becomes raised, and within a few hours forms a small central blister.  This will then form a crust and dry up.  The spots tend to occur in crops, so that there may be several spots in different phases.  The symptoms can be helped with Calamine Lotion applied to the skin, and also lukewarm baths.  Paracetamol, eg Calpol and Phenergan, may also be helpful in relieving symptoms.  Usually chickenpox is a minor self limiting infection, however occasionally chickenpox may be more severe and need medical attention.  Chickenpox is infectious from 2 or 3 days before the rash appears until the last spot has crusted over. 

For more information

Health Protection Agency



The possible symptoms in women may be:

  • An unusual vaginal discharge.
  • The need to pass urine more often.
  • Pain on passing urine or during sex
  • Pain in the pelvis or lower abdomen.
  • Any irregular bleeding, between periods, after sex or if you are using contraception.

The possible symptoms in men may be:

  • A discharge from the tip of the penis.
  • Pain and/or burning when passing urine.
  • Irritation at the tip of the penis.
  • Painful swelling of the testicles.


Most episodes of acute diarrhoea are caused by a virus infection.  Whether due to a virus or other cause the immediate treatment is taking plenty of clear fluids and you may continue to eat a normal diet.  Dioralyte (or equivalent) replaces salts as well as sugars in severe diarrhoea.  It is not necessary to stop breast feeding small babies with diarrhoea.  If the diarrhoea shows blood or there is severe pain or a high fever, contact your doctor.  Extra care is needed with small babies and the elderly.  Persistent diarrhoea for more than a few days in either adults or small children should be seen by the doctor.  Food handlers also require special attention.


Flu should respond to complete rest, lots of fluids and regular painkillers. Consult your doctor if the fever is persistent, or you produce coloured sputum or you have visited a malaria region in the last year.  Diabetics, asthmatics and patients with chronic illness such as heart disease are more prone to chest infections.  We recommend influenza vaccination for this group of people, and if you are not certain if you should have a flu jab, please discuss this with one of our nurses.

Rubella (German Measles)

The rash appears during the first day and usually covers the body, arms and legs in small patches approximately 2-4 mm that do not itch.  Often there are no other symptoms, however there may occasionally be a mild conjunctivitis and a slight cough.  Rubella is infectious from 2 days before the rash until the rash disappears about 4 or 5 days later.  The only danger is to unborn babies and therefore it is important that all contacts are informed in case of pregnancy.  Immunisation can prevent this disease.

For more information:

NHS Childhood Immunisation Schedule


The rash is blotchy and red and appears on the face and body around the fourth day of illness.  There is usually an associated fever, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis.  Paracetamol, eg Calpol, may help with the symptoms, however if the child is unwell please consult your doctor.  With current vaccination schedules measles should hopefully become a rare illness.  It is at its most infectious from 2-3 days before the rash appears until 8 or 10 days after this 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 a swelling in front of the other ear.  It is infectious from 2 or 3 days before the swelling until 8 or 10 days after this date.  If the pain is severe you should consult your doctor. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

Head Lice

Contrary to popular belief, head lice prefer clean hair and are therefore not a sign of poor personal hygiene.  Medicated head lotion can be obtained from the chemist without prescription.  All members of the family should be treated at the same time. 

Insect Bites and Stings

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


The ideal treatment for acute injuries such as sprains, is the combination of rest , ice, compression ( e.g. crepe bandage or tubigrip) and elevation.  Serious injuries need attention from the doctor or nurse and if you have doubts about a fracture, it is advised to attend the Accident and Emergency Department.

Stomach Ache

Most attacks are not serious and are usually caused by indigestion or wind.  In the case of indigestion a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in half a glass of water will help.  Do not use any medication using Aspirin or Ibuprofen as this may worsen the problem.  If the pain is severe or persistent 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.  Prevention is much better than cure, especially with children who are particularly susceptible to sunburn. 

Temperature in Children

This happens with even the most mild infection.  In small children it is important to stop the temperature rising too quickly, and paracetamol syrup from your chemist should help.  If they still feel hot, sponge them all over with tepid water.  If the temperature is very high and does not respond to this treatment, you should contact your doctor.

More Information

NHS Choices - Fever in Children


Threadworms are common in children and are unpleasant but not harmful.  They are tiny white worms about 1cm long and may be seen in the stool.  The commonest symptom is anal itching.  Medicine is available from your pharmacist to treat worms.


If a child or adult is vomiting, then frequent sips of clear fluid should be given, gradually increasing as tolerated.  Avoid food until the patient is able to tolerate a normal volume of fluid.  If vomiting is prolonged or severe and the patient is not drinking enough, it is possible that he or she may become dehydrated.  In children if you can match the following questions and answers, then serious dehydration is unlikely.

If you pinch the skin on their tummy and let go, does it immediately spring back flat? YES
Is you child's mouth and tongue moist with saliva? YES
Are your child's eyes sunken? NO
Is your baby's soft spot on top of the head sunken in? NO
Has your child passed urine in the last 12 hours? YES