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 68 Silver Street, Enfield, EN1 3EW

 NHS                                  Phone: 020 8363 4156


Self Treatment Of Common Illnesses & Accidents


Many common aches and pains can be simply treated at home without the need to consult a doctor.


Head Lice


These creatures prefer short, clean hair and are therefore in no way a sign of poor personal hygiene. Medicated lotion, which is better than shampoo, can be obtained without prescription from the chemist, who will know which treatment is currently recommended. However, wet combing with a fine toothed comb twice daily until all eggs and lice are removed avoids the use of medications. Conditioner will ease the use of a fine toothed comb and weekly combing will prevent recurrence.




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 unbroken but blistered, apply a loose dry dressing. If the burn is larger than four or five inches in diameter or the skin is broken, consult your doctor or a Hospital Accident and Emergency Department as soon as possible.




Firstly apply a cold compress containing ice if possible for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the swelling. Apply a crepe bandage firmly 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.




Sit in a chair and pinch the nose just below the bone for approximately 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped. Avoid hot drinks or hot food for 24 hours. If the symptoms persist, consult you doctors.




Vaccination is available from September to December each year, and is especially recommended for people aged 65 and over, and for both adults and children who have diabetes, asthma or chronic renal disease. If suffering from a temperature and aching, take paracetamol or asprin (if over 16), plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible.




Children often run temperatures with no other symptoms. They should be cooled down and then will feel much better. Remove their clothes down to vest and pants and keep the room temperature down. Use paracetamol or ibruprofen, etc. and sponge them down with lukewarm (not cold) water or blow them with a fan or hairdryer on its coolest setting. If there is no improvement after 48 hours, make an appointment to see a doctor.


Diarrhoea and Vomiting


This usually settles in one to three days and we recommend avoiding all food for 12-24 hours but giving plenty of fluids e.g. water, weak squash etc. frequently and in small amounts. If the vomiting is very frequent, special fluids such as Dioralyte or Rehidrat prevent dehydration and are available at the chemist. Do avoid milk, dairy produce and fatty/spicy foods when starting to eat again. Instead try dry bread, toast, thin soups, potato, chicken etc. If the diarrhoea doesn’t settle, try natural yoghurt, flavoured if preferred.


Back Pain


Back pain causes 13 million working days to be lost in Britain each year. The spine is made up of 24 fragile bones and together with associated cartilage and tendons, supports the whole weight of the upper body. 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 lifting heavy weights etc, rest is usually found to be helpful. Take care to sit as upright as possible with support for the small of the back. Taking aspirin or paracetamol will not only relieve the pain, but should help to reduce inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe stronger drugs and gentle exercise if the problem persists.




Bed sores are far easier to prevent than to cure. They are caused by prolonged pressure to certain parts of the body when lying in bed for long periods of time. They can be prevented by encouraging the patient to shift position as often as possible and taking care to smooth out creases in the bottom sheet that could lead to localised irritation. Watch for red marks appearing at the pressure points such as heels, elbows, buttocks and hips and if they begin to appear, inform the doctor.




Sunburn should always be avoided by everyone, by wearing loose fitting, light clothing in the sun. If sunbathing, avoid the late morning and early afternoon when the harmful rays of the sun are most powerful and always use a sunscreen of the correct sun protection factor. Reapply regularly paying special attention to sensitive areas such as lips, nose, ears, eyelids, nipples and shoulders. Never stay in the sun until the skin turns red. Children and infants are particularly susceptible to sunburn and great care should be taken to avoid over exposure to the sun.


However, if sunburn does occur, treat as for burns with cold water to remove the heat. Calamine lotion and Paracetamol can help to relieve the irritation.


Minor Cuts and Grazes


The wound should be cleaned thoroughly with running water. Persistent bleeding can be stopped by pressing firmly on the wound with a clean handkerchief or dressing for 5-10 minutes. Cover the wound with a clean dry dressing. If it is gaping, it may require stitches which will prevent unsightly scarring. This may be performed at a Hospital Accident and Emergency Department.


Insect Bites and Stings


The itching and swelling, associated with stings and bites, can usually be relieved by antihistamine tablets or creams which can be obtained from chemists without prescription. N.B. Bee stings can be scraped away, not plucked, to avoid squeezing the contents of the venom sac into the wound.




Firstly, a note on these commonly prescribed and powerful medicines: Antibiotics only work on bacteria and are without effect on viruses. Unfortunately, this means that the common infections like coughs, colds, flu etc. will not be helped by them at all. The correct treatment is the simple remedies outlined below, and doctors only use antibiotics when they fail and a secondary bacterial infection is suspected. Overuse of antibiotics may lead to them not working in the future, together with more complications such as thrush, skin rashes etc.


Cold and Sinus Pains


Take plenty of fluids, paracetamol or, if over 16 years old, aspirin. Inhalations with steam and Karvol methol crystals/Olbas oil, etc. can help clear the passages. If they are very blocked, a decongestant such as Sudafed (available at the chemist) or Vicks Sinex etc. can be helpful. An improvement should be noticed after seven to ten days, with full recovery after two weeks. If there is no improvement by this time, please make an appointment to see a doctor.




A drink made from honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice (full of vitamins) in hot water can soothe a cough. If particularly irritating, steam inhalations can be worthwhile or a cough medicine from the chemist. If coloured phlegm is produced, it is advisable to make an appointment to see a doctor.


Sore Throats


If over 16, gargle with soluble aspirin, otherwise paracetamol, drink plenty of fluids and use lozenge/boiled sweets if they help. Most sore throats will settle with this treatment in three to five days.




As sore throats, try steam inhalations, rest the voice and avoid smoke.

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