Health Matters: Home remedies for common conditions

Ian Strachan headshot
PHARMACIST: Ian Strachan

Uppermill pharmacist IAN STRACHAN offers some top tips and home remedies for common conditions.

Many of these conditions can be treated effectively at home applying self-care, advice from your pharmacist and a selection of over the counter medicines.


One in five visits to our GP is due to back related conditions. A combination of over the counter remedies and self care is often all that is necessary. When back pain persists for at least a fortnight speak to your GP.

Self care tips:

  • Use paracetamol or ibuprofen for pain relief. Speak to you pharmacist as to their suitability.
  • Hot or cold compression packs from your pharmacist may help with pain. Cold compression can be done by wrapping a bag of frozen peas in a towel.
  • Place a small firm cushion beneath the knees when sleeping on your side. When lying on your back use several firm pillows to prop up the knees.
  • Keep mobile where possible and stay positive.


This includes conditions such as eczema and occurs when your body comes into contact with a substance that irritates your skin or causes an allergic reaction. If the rash fails to clear up consult your pharmacist or GP.

Self care tips:

  • Avoid scratching which may damage the skin and permit bacteria to invade.
  • Try to identify the irritant or allergen so you can avoid contact.
  • Moisturising creams called emollients help to calm mild flare ups of dermatitis. They’re available from pharmacies and I always recommend the unperfumed variants.


Digestive complaints like heartburn, indigestion and bloating are highly common. They’re usually treatable with simple changes to lifestyle and over the counter remedies.

Self care tips:

  • For short term relief of indigestion, your pharmacist may recommend antacid medicines or alginates, such as Gaviscon.
  • Diet, excess weight, smoking, alcohol and going to bed on a full stomach can all contribute to indigestion.
  • Make a note of any food or drink which seem to make your indigestion worse, and try to avoid them. This may mean eating less rich, spicy and fatty foods and cutting down on drinks that contain caffeine such as tea, coffee and cola.
  • Mild symptoms persist usually for two to four days. If the pain or bloating persists see your GP.


In most cases a blocked nose will clear within a few days without treatment once our bodies fight off the underlying infection. When symptoms are caused through a virus like a cold or flu, antibiotics won’t help.

Self care tips:

  • Over-the counter decongestant medicines may relieve a blocked nose. Don’t use for more than five to seven days at a time.
  • Inhaling steam from a bowl of hot but not boiling water may soften and loosen the build up of mucus in your nose. Adding menthol crystals of eucalyptus oil to the water may ease your blocked nose and catarrh.

If symptoms persist consult with your pharmacist or GP.


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