Bristol minor ailments scheme

The Bristol Community Pharmacy Minor Ailments Scheme previously allowed patients who do not pay prescription charges to access treatment for a range of common conditions on the NHS.

The Bristol Community Pharmacy Minor Ailments Scheme finished on 31 March 2017. Patients continue to be able to get free advice from pharmacists and purchase medication over-the-counter at a pharmacy or from other retailers, such as supermarkets.

On this page we have provided links to a range of information and resources to support self-care of the common conditions for which treatment was available through the minor ailments scheme.

You can access free healthcare advice at any time on the NHS website,  by speaking to your local pharmacist or by calling NHS 111.

Getting advice and treatment

Information is available below on the conditions for which advice and treatment was previously available via the Bristol Community Pharmacy Minor Ailments Scheme, including:

  • Athlete’s foot
  • Cold sores
  • Diarrhoea
  • Haemorrhoids (piles)
  • Hay fever
  • Head lice
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Threadworm
  • Vaginal thrush
  • Warts and verrucae

You can also find lots of useful information about each condition and lots of other conditions on the NHS website.  

Treatments for a wide range of common conditions are available to purchase from pharmacies, supermarkets and other retailers and are often inexpensive. Your community pharmacist can provide further information, and advise whether treatment is necessary.

Athlete’s foot

Athlete's foot is a rash caused by a fungus that usually appears between the toes.

Athlete's foot is unlikely to get better on its own. It can usually be treated using antifungal treatments available from pharmacies, without needing to see a GP.

Cold sores

Cold sores are small blisters that develop on the lips or around the mouth. They're caused by the herpes simplex virus and usually clear up without treatment within 7 to 10 days.


Diarrhoea is where you frequently pass watery or loose poo. Some people may also have other symptoms, depending on the cause.

It affects most people from time to time and is usually nothing to worry about. However, it can be distressing and unpleasant until it passes, which normally takes a few days to a week.

Haemorrhoids (piles)

Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swellings containing enlarged blood vessels found inside or around the bottom (the rectum and anus).

The symptoms of haemorrhoids often clear up on their own, or by using simple treatments that can be bought from a pharmacy without a prescription.

Speak to your GP if your symptoms don't get better or you experience pain or bleeding.

Hay fever

Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one in five people at some point in their life. Symptoms of hay fever include sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes. You'll experience hay fever symptoms if you have an allergic reaction to pollen.

Hay fever can often be controlled using over-the-counter medication. Your local pharmacist can advise you on treatments for you or your children.

Head lice

Head lice are tiny insects that live in hair. Nits are the empty egg cases attached to hair that head lice hatch from.

Treatments to get rid of head lice are available to buy from pharmacies, supermarkets and online. You don't usually need to see your GP.

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) has produced a leaflet to help you understand more about head lice – what they are, what can be done about them, and where you can find out more:

Insect bites and stings

Most insect bites and stings are not serious and will get better within a few hours or days and can be treated at home.


Threadworms, also known as pinworms, are tiny parasitic worms that infect the large intestine of humans.

If you think you or your child may have threadworms, you can usually treat the infection yourself with medication available at pharmacies without a prescription.

Vaginal thrush

Vaginal thrush is a common yeast infection that affects most women at some point.

If you've had thrush before and think you have it again, you can normally treat it with medicines bought from a local pharmacy. Otherwise, you should see your GP for advice. 

Warts and verrucas

Warts are small lumps that develop on the skin. Verrucas are a type of wart that affects the bottom of the feet.

Most warts and verrucas will eventually clear up without treatment, but this can take months or even years.

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) has produced a leaflet to help you understand more about verrucas - what they are, what causes them, what can be done about them, and where you can find out more.