Self-care is perfect if your condition is something you will be able to treat at home, such as minor coughs, colds or common childhood illnesses.

In fact, for some illnesses, home is the best place for you.

A big part of your recovery from these minor illnesses is to rest and drink plenty of water. You can plan ahead by stocking up on healthcare essentials you might need, like paracetamol – ask your pharmacist for advice on stocking your home medicines cabinet.

If you are ill and don’t have these in your house, ask a friend, family member or carer to get them on your behalf.

What should I have in my home medicine cabinet?

Over-the-counter medicines from your pharmacist can help with the symptoms of common minor ailments and illnesses such as coughs, colds, headaches and diarrhoea.

Useful medicines and equipment to have at home include:

  • Painkillers such as paracetomol, aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Antacids for indigestion
  • Antihistamine tablets or cream, for allergy relief
  • Sore throat and cough lozenges
  • Anti-diarrhoea tablets and rehydration salts
  • A first aid kit.

You should always make sure medicines are stored in a safe place, out of reach of children.

Where’s my nearest pharmacy?

Pharmacists are your healthcare experts on the high street. They will advise you on treating common conditions and can tell you when you need to see a GP.

Our service finder will tell you your nearest pharmacist and their opening hours.

Find a pharmacy

Online self-care advice

The NHS symptom checker can help you identify your condition and what to do next.

How to treat common winter illnesses

Caring for a poorly child?

The NHS website has detailed guidance for parents and carers about looking after a poorly child.

You can also download the NHS HANDi App for parents. It’s designed by paediatric specialists and provides simple and straightforward advice, for a range of common conditions.

Find out more about the HANDi App

If you are treating a poorly child at home, it is important to have a well-stocked medicine cabinet for minor injuries and illnesses.

Helpful things to have in a medicine cabinet include:

  • A thermometer
  • Liquid paracetamol and ibuprofen for children – non-branded paracetamol and ibuprofen is just as effective as branded Calpol and Nurofen. Tablets are the cheapest and older children can be supported to swallow tablets: Teaching your child to swallow tablets
  • An oral syringe
  • A first aid kit
  • Rash cream or calamine lotion.

Self-care apps for long-term conditions

The NHS also provides apps to help you manage a wide range of long-term conditions.

More information

Find a local health service Which NHS service should I use?