Minor Ailments Service & Over The Counter Medication

Prescribing of Medicines for Minor Conditions and Self-limiting Illnesses

In line with guidance from the NI Department of Health, this GP practice does not prescribe medicines:

  1. that can be purchased over-the-counter by patients when they are being used to treat minor conditions or self-limiting illnesses, or
  2. where there is no evidence base for their use.

The following points should be noted:

  • This practice promotes self-care for minor conditions and self-limiting illnesses (see below for examples)
  • Medicines on the lists below should be purchased by the patient from community pharmacies or supermarkets and not prescribed on HS21
  • Patients should be advised that their local community pharmacist can provide advice and help to manage minor conditions and self-limiting illnesses

Clinical judgement is used when considering whether to ask a patient to purchase their medication e.g. paracetamol PRN for headaches or teething in babies should be purchased, however regular full dose paracetamol for chronic pain should be prescribed due to the quantities and processes involved in managing an on-going illness.

1. OTC indications and examples of restricted medicines

OTC indication

Examples of restricted medicines

Aches and pains (mild) e.g. headache, occasional migraine, teething

Anti-inflammatory gels or creams e.g. ibuprofen gel, diclofenac gel

Oral painkillers e.g. paracetamol, ibuprofen

Athlete’s foot

Antifungal creams e.g. clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine

Cold sores

Anti-viral creams e.g. acyclovir 5%


Colic drops e.g. Infacol®, Dentinox Colic Drops®, Colief®

Gripe water

Coughs, colds and sore throats

Cough bottles

Lozenges and spays for sore throats

Oral painkillers/antipyretics e.g. paracetamol,ibuprofen

Nasal decongestant e.g. pseudoephidrine tablets, decongestant sprays and drops

Diarrhoea (occasional) or constipation

Oral rehydration solutions e.g. Dioralyte®

Antidiarrhoeal medicines e.g. loperamide

Laxatives e.g. ispaghula husk (Fybogel®), bisacodyl, lactulose, senna

Ear wax

Drops for softening ear wax

Fungal nail infections

Amorolfine 5% nail lacquer (mild infections only– max 2 nails affected)

Haemorrhoids (Piles)

Haemorrhoid creams, ointments and suppositories e.g. Anusol®

Hayfever and allergies

Oral antihistamines e.g. cetirizine, loratadine, chlorphenamine

Antihistamine creams

Steroid nasal sprays e.g. beclometasone, fluticasone

Head lice

Headlice lotions and sprays e.g. dimethicone lotion

Indigestion and heartburn (mild)

Antacids e.g. co-magaldrox (Maalox®, Mucogel®)

Alginates e.g. Gaviscon®

Infant feeding

Baby milks e.g. comfort milks, lactose free formulas for colic, reflux milks

(Note - some babies may require cow’s milk free formulas on HSC prescription where clinically appropriate)

Nappy rash

Barrier creams and ointments e.g. Metanium®, Sudocrem®, Zinc and Castor oil cream

Oral health

Mouthwashes e.g. chlorhexidine


Sunscreens unless for ACBS approved conditions

i.e. skin protection against UV radiation in abnormal cutaneous photosensitivity resulting from genetic disorders or photodermatoses, including vitiligo and those resulting from radiotherapy, chronic or recurrent herpes simplex labialis


Mebendazole tablets and suspension

Vaginal thrush

Oral antifungal e.g. fluconazole capsule

Topical antifungals e.g. clotrimazole cream and pessaries

Vitamins and minerals

All vitamins and minerals unless in line with an ACBS approved indication,

i.e. only in the management of actual or potential vitamin or mineral deficiency; they are not to be prescribed as dietary supplements or as a general ‘pick-me-up’

Non evidence-based products

Products on Stop List

Prescribing of these products is not supported by the HSCB


CoEnzyme Q10

Colic products e.g. Infacol® or Dentinox®

Comfort Milks (Aptamil®, Cow & Gate® and SMA®) or Colief® drops


Eye Supplements e.g Icaps®, Ocuvite®, Macushield®, PreserVision®, Viteyes®

Gamolenic acid / Evening Primrose Oil

Glucosamine containing products

Gluten free non‐staple foods eg biscuits, muffins, sausage rolls

Green Lipped Mussel (Pernaton gel®)

Omega 3 Products e.g. Eye Q® and Efalex®


Products on the Limited Evidence List

Products on this list must not be routinely prescribed and reviewed to ensure used only in approved circumstances

Omacor® / Maxepa®

Probiotics e.g. VSL#3®, lactobacillus, bifidobacterium


Vitamins – Multivitamins, Ascorbic Acid, Forceval®, Ketovite®, Vitamins BPC, Vivioptal®, Cod liver oil

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