The 10 most common reasons why people visit Pharmacies

We at London Doctors Clinic have asked our resident Superintendent Pharmacist of London Doctors Pharmacy, Dipali Khurana, what people visit her for most and here is what she had to say:

1. Cold Sores

Caused by the relentlessly persistent Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), cold sores have a characteristic “tingling” feeling. They can go on their own within 7-10 days but if you want to speed up that process then an antiviral cream such as Aciclovir can be bought Over-The-Counter. This should be applied as soon as the first signs appear.

lips cold sore treatment herpes

Cold-sores usually go away themselves, but heal quicker with anti-viral treatment

2. Mouth Ulcers

These are sore on the INSIDE of the mouth, not to be confused with cold sores that develop on the lips or outside of the mouth. There are three common ways to treat a mouth ulcer:

  • Antimicrobial mouthwash: chlorhexidine - but be careful, this could stain your teeth temporarily.
  • Corticosteroid lozenge*- normally used as a 5 day treatment, these are placed next to the ulcer.
  • OTC topical anaesthetic- whilst they don’t get rid of an ulcer, they definitely help you forget you have one!

However, if your ulcer lasts more than 3 weeks, is recurring or is getting worse, it's time to see your affordable private GP.

3. Diarrhoea

This can come about from a variety of causes: bacteria, virus, parasite, stress, anxiety, alcohol, side effect of drugs and many others. The first thing to do is make sure you’re hydrated (and no, that doesn’t mean drinking more alcohol!). You can do this by drinking plenty of water as well as getting Oral Rehydration Therapy from your pharmacy. If it is affecting your daily routine then you can also buy Loperamide* which will slow down any gut movement i.e decrease diarrhoea.

If you've been suffering from diarrhoea for more than a week, are losing weight as a result, or have noticed especially dark or black stools - it's time to pay a visit to the doctor, to investigate the cause of this uncomfortable symptom.

4. Constipation

Something that does not discriminate against any age or gender! Constipation is an unwanted result from perhaps a change in diet, lifestyle, not enough fluids or fibre, anxiety or side effects of medicines. The first way to treat this is through lifestyle changes - exercise, increase water and fibre intake. If this doesn’t do the job, then reinforcements can be brought in! You can try laxatives, the different types are:

  • Bulk forming laxative: this increases the faecal mass, which then stimulates the gut to move. It should be advised that the full effect may take 2-3 days. These are to be taken if fibre cannot be obtained in the diet
  • Stimulant laxative: It does what it says on the tin, they stimulate the gut to start moving and generally within 10-12 hours! If you want to use a suppository then this may take up to 20 minutes!
  • Osmotic laxative: this type of laxative draws water in from its surroundings allowing stools to pass easily.
  • Stool Softener:  the least commonly used laxative, they act as a lubricant and soften the stool.

5. Athlete's foot

Getting straight to the point, it's probably a case of athlete's foot if in between your toes is dry, red, flaky, white, itchy and sore, and if there are small blisters and cracks there. How to get rid of it? Use an antifungal (cream, liquid, spray, powder- take your pick!). Athlete's foot normally takes several days to heal.

dirty trainers fungus athlete's foot

The fungus responsible for athlete's foot infections thrives in warm, dark, damp places - such as trainers! Spraying the inside of shoes with disinfectant sprays can help prevent the build up of fungus and bacteria

6. Warts and Veruccas

Warts are small, hard lumps on the skin and veruccas are a type of wart that are specifically on the bottom of the feet. Getting rid of warts and veruccas can be a timely process, but can be treated with a salicyclic based cream, gel or paint, or you could freeze it off by Cryotherapy.

7. Allergy Treatment

There are millions of different allergens around, meaning you can be allergic to literally anything. The key to managing allergies is to try avoid the particular allergen, however if you do come in contact with this allergen then you can use Antihistamines* to manage your symptoms. If you do have a rash, then you can use an antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream*. If you're struggling to narrow down the specific allergen responsible for your allergies, why not pop into one of our convenient central London clinics for a consultation with a GP, where we can perform thorough allergen blood testing.


Common symptoms of allergy include sneezing, an itchy and runny nose, wheezing, itchy skin and rashes

8. Eye infection

Conjunctivitis is very common infection that can be caused by bacteria (bacterial conjunctivitis), an allergy (allergic conjunctivitis) or an irritant (irritant conjunctivitis). Conjunctivitis causes the eye to become sticky, red, itchy and gritty. It can affect either one or both eyes. You can use an antibiotic eye drop Chloramphenicol* to treat this, you would need to use this for 5 days.

9. Cough

Chesty or Dry? If your cough is dry i.e. no phlegm is being produced, then you can get a cough syrup that has dextromethorphan* in it, alternatively you can use an oldie but a goodie- Honey and Lemon! For a chesty cough you will need guaifenesin*-this loosens up any mucus in the chest.

10. Thrush

Affecting both men and women. For women, symptoms include; vaginal discharge, a stinging sensation during urination, an itchy and sore labia. Thrush symptoms in men include irritation, burning, itching and redness of the foreskin or tip of penis, and penile discharge. 

There are three main ways to treat thrush:

  • Cream - this can be used by both men and women, and applied locally to ease discomfort
  • Capsules- these are swallowed orally and are convenient to use for both men and women, however do have possible side effects such as upset stomach
  • Pessary - for treatment of vaginal thrush - have fewer side effects than oral capsules and work very effectively

I hope these points helped you through any minor ailments! If you would like any more information on any of the topics above then please book in with London Doctors Clinic! 

*please speak to your pharmacist or doctor in more details before using these medicines.


By Dipali Khurana