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how to use Sunscreen

  • It is essential to use sunscreen correctly to achieve the best protection.

  • Apply sunscreen liberally to all sun-exposed areas so that it forms a film when initially applied. Most people do not use enough. It takes at least six teaspoons of lotion to cover the sun-exposed areas of the body of one average adult person.

  • It takes 20–30 minutes for sunscreen to be absorbed by the skin and it can easily be rubbed off, so apply it at least half an hour before going out in the sun.

  • Reapply after half an hour so that the ‘mountains’, as well as the ‘valleys’, are protected (imagine you are painting a wall – two coats of paint provide a more even coverage than one).

  • Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours if staying out in the sun for more than an hour during the day.

  • Re-apply immediately after swimming, excessive sweating, or if rubbed off by clothing or towelling, even if the product claims to be “water resistant”.

  • Insect repellents reduce the sunscreen's SPF so when using together, use a sunscreen with a higher SPF and re-apply more often.

  • A sunscreen is only one part of your defence. Cover up with suitable clothing, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses. When the sun’s rays are most intense (between 10am and 4pm September to April), it’s also a good idea to limit your time in the sun

Athlete's foot

Is the skin between your toes peeling? Do your feet have a rather whiffy aroma? If so, you may well have athletes foot.


Although the experts are divided as to whether athletes foot (Tinea pedis) is worse during the heat of summer - or the cold winter months when your feet are couped up in shoes all day - either way this condition can spread like wildfire through your household unless treated immediately.

Athlete’s foot is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophyte fungi that grow in warm moist environments and can cause infection in the skin. It spreads easily through direct skin-to-skin contact or indirectly through contact with infected surfaces – like sharing towels, shoes and bath mats. It can also be caught by walking barefoot in warm damp areas like communal showers, gyms, swimming pools or changing rooms. Secondary infection can occur if skin is split, bleeding, or blistered.

Athlete’s foot commonly affects the skin between the toes – particularly between the fourth and small toe. The skin may appear soft, white and peeling but can also be red, itchy and scaly. It can also sometimes spread to the sole of the foot where it appears dry, cracked and scaly. Other symptoms include itching, burning, stinging, small blisters, fissures (splitting) and bleeding.

The good news is that athletes foot is easily treated by using creams and powders. Antifungal creams work by preventing fungi from multiplying (fungi-static), or by killing fungi directly (fungi-cidal). Fungi-static antifungal creams need to be applied for approximately two weeks after the infection has cleared, while fungi-cidal antifungal creams can be stopped once the infection has cleared.

Antifungal powders are good for dusting in shoes or socks to kill residual fungal spores and prevent reoccurrence, while corticosteroid creams help reduce itch and inflammation. Corticosteroid creams must be applied sparingly and used strictly according to product recommendations and the advice from your community pharmacist. It is a good idea to talk to your community pharmacist for advice on using these products. Some products contain both an antifungal and a corticosteroid so you will need to ensure treatment is not duplicated.

Your community pharmacist can also advise you on making lifestyle changes so that you can minimise the risk of getting athletes foot in the future



Bedbugs are small wingless parasites that live in bedding and soft furnishings. They feed on the blood of their victim and are pale coloured when hungry and reddish brown after a feed from their host.

These insects come out of their hiding places at night, attracted to the carbon dioxide that we breathe out and to our body heat, which is why they particularly like a sleeping host – thus the name ‘bed bugs’.

All homes are at risk of a bed bug infestation, but outbreaks often occur where there is a high turnover of visitors, such as hostels and hotels. The insects bite the host and inject a numbing substance in their saliva which is why their bites go unnoticed. The saliva also has an anti-clotting agent so they can enjoy a lengthy feed of your blood.

The inflammation and red marks resulting from bed bug bites is thought to be as a result of these substances, but often people are only aware of having been bitten is the presence of tiny spots of blood or animal faeces on their sheets.

Bed bugs are opportunistic, and hide well, so an infestation is not a sign of an unclean place to stay. However in order to rid a place of bed bugs you will need to be persistent, clean thoroughly and often use insecticides several times to ensure the area is bed bug free.

Anything that can be washed should be washed using hot water. Any other item that cannot be washed may be placed in a plastic bag and frozen for 24 hours. Furniture must be dismantled and drawers and cupboards opened before thorough spraying with a suitable insecticide. All foods and pets must be removed before the insecticide is sprayed, and bathroom items such as toothbrushes removed or sealed away from the insecticide.

The insecticide must be allowed to dry before the rooms are reassembled, with consideration given to repeating the fumigation to ensure that the infestation is successfully eliminated.

The source of any infestation must also be considered, it is not uncommon for second hand furniture to act as the mode of transmission from one house to another, so careful inspection before use is often a useful preventative measure.

In order to treat the bites you will need to use the same sort of treatments as you would any other insect bite. Often the allergic reaction is persistent, so you may need oral antihistamines, as well as mild anti-inflammatory creams such as hydrocortisone cream. Remember to keep the skin well moisturised in order to limit the damage caused by scratching or sharp fingernails.

Talk to your pharmacist about suitable treatments for both the bites and to rid the infestation. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you about managing the effects of any infestation as well as prevent their return


Cold sores

Cold sores normally first occur on or near your lip. They are caused by a type of herpes virus that is highly contagious and are often caught in childhood from someone who is infected. The virus lies dormant until it is activated, usually at a most inconvenient moment, and starts by tingling or burning near where the blister is going to occur. Within a few hours one or more small blisters form, often swelling the surrounding area, giving rise to a throbbing painful sore.

The liquid inside the blister contains active herpes viruses, so may spread to other areas or other people once the blister breaks. The sore may become infected with bacteria as well as with the virus, so care must be taken to prevent any further infection.

Once you have had your first cold sore you remain infected, so there is no absolute cure. The virus often lies dormant for some time, and is activated by stress, sunburn, colds and flu’, by physical injury such as from dental work, fatigue and being run down. The best treatment for cold sores is not to get one in the first place, so take care when people around you have a cold sore. Make sure you don’t share cups, cutlery, toothbrushes and towels. Ensure you (and they) wash and dry your hands frequently. It is also helpful to consider carefully whether you need to kiss them when they have an active cold sore.

The next best treatment is specific antiviral medicines, used at the first sign of tingling, which is the warning sign that cold sores are on their way. Many medicines are available at your local pharmacy – from tablets that are taken as soon as warning signs develop, to medicated patches that treat the cold sore with specific antiviral medicine as well as protecting the cold sore from infection from hands or food debris. Other patches that are not medicated protect the area from spreading to others, ease the pain and help to heal and protect. Most cold sores resolve within 10 days, but will return if you don’t prevent the triggers from activating the virus again.

Your community pharmacist will be able to give you advice to treat and prevent reinfection of cold sores, and determine if you need to seek further medical help to prevent your cold sores developing into more serious infections

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dry eye

Dry eye is a common condition that usually affects both eyes. It occurs when you don't produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears. Although anyone can be affected by dry eye it is more common in women, office workers and older people.

Over time, the dryness can damage the surface of the eyeball. Dry eye feels uncomfortable and may sting or burn. You might be sensitive to light, have difficulty with nighttime driving, have blurry vision, or, in some cases, your eyes might water, and wearing contact lenses can be uncomfortable

Dry eye can be caused by​:

  • exposure to cigarette smoke, sun, dust or wind

  • low humidity environments such as airconditioned rooms, airplane cabins and extreme hot/cold weather

  • looking at a computer screen or television for long periods

  • some medicines and health conditions

 The symptoms can be managed with eye products such as ‘artificial tears’, gels or ointments. Some products focus on the cause of dry eye, while others can improve your tear quality or stop your tears from quickly draining away from your eyes.

For most people with occasional or mild dry eye symptoms, using eyedrops regularly is enough to improve the symptoms. Some people need to put the drops in several times a day, and some use them only once a day.

Come in and talk to our pharmacist for advice on what product is best to manage your dry eye condition.


fungal infections 

Fungal infections are common and can affect anyone. Infections are common in warmer climates and summer months because the fungi grow in warm, damp environments and thrive in moist areas of the body.

Tinea and candida are common fungal infections. Ringworm, athletes foot and jock itch are examples of tinea infections, while vaginal and oral thrush are examples of candida infections.

Ringworm is common in children and is easily identified on the body because of its shape. Athletes foot is an infection in between the toes, and jock itch affects the groin, buttocks, and inner thighs. These types of fungal infections are often spread through person to person contact, from animals, or an infected object (eg, a towel). They are easily treated with antifungal creams available from our pharmacy.

Vaginal and oral thrush are often triggered by antibiotics, stress, hormone imbalances, poor eating habits, diabetes, or a weakened immune system. Our pharmacists can recommend products to treat either of these conditions.

You can help prevent fungal infections by:

  • eating a healthy diet

  • avoiding walking barefoot in public showers or pools

  • wearing loose-fitting clothing made from natural fiber's

  • Rinsing your mouth out after using preventer inhalers


Knowing how to recognise a potential fungal infection early and what to do about it can minimise your misery. Come in and talk to one of our pharmacists for advice on how you can manage these conditions effectively.



The children have gone back to school but apart from knowledge and skills, what else might come home with your child? Unfortunately, nits or head lice.

Head lice are small grey-brown coloured insects that have an affinity for hair, particularly in children aged four to 11 years old. However, older and younger people can also get infected. Other signs of head lice include nits (which are the head lice’s yellowish egg shells) and lice faeces (black specks) in the scalp and hair. Head lice do not discriminate – they love both clean and dirty hair and are not the result of poor hygiene.

The infection is spread by head-to-head contact and generally occurs when children play together, or when they come into close contact with each other. This allows the insect to move from one head to another.

Not all people with head lice get an itchy scalp when they are infected. The itch associated with head lice is from sensitivity to the saliva of the head lice.

If you notice coloured specks in your child’s hair, or you receive a notification from the school that there is an outbreak, then you need to check your child’s head. You can do this by searching the scalp and the hair close to the scalp, by using a metal fine tooth comb. While this may remove the faeces and cast off nits, is unlikely to kill all of the head lice.

Several treatments are available from your local pharmacy to help kill the head lice.

Some of these treatments may need to be reapplied in order to completely eradicate the infection. It is important you read the instructions thoroughly before applying any treatment. Following treatment, you need to comb your child’s wet hair thoroughly with a fine tooth comb to remove the dead hair lice and debris. This also assists with eradication.

Your local community pharmacist can help you with advice about products to treat head lice and advise you about prevention of this troublesome condition.

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​Jetlag affects most people to a small or large degree after crossing more than one timezone. As a rule the longer your flight the more extensive and troublesome jetlag appears to be.

The symptoms of jetlag appear to be more pronounced for some people after travelling from east to west, or when several flights are undertaken in succession, but disorientation occurs whenever you travel by air for extended periods of time. Those people with fixed routines appear to be affected to a greater extent than children or people whose lives are less structured. However, flight crews who travel extensively may still suffer from extended fatigue and other symptoms associated with jetlag, and require significantly longer periods of time to recover from long flights when they do not have enough time on the ground between flights.

Other contributing factors include dehydration due to the dry air that is circulated during a flight, increased air pressure once cruising altitude is reached, inactivity due to restricted seat space and the fear of disturbing others if moving around the cabin frequently.

If you are tired or stressed before starting your air travel then this may also worsen jet lag symptoms and increase the recovery period that generally follows a long flight.

The most common symptoms of jet lag are disorientation, dehydration and gastrointestinal disturbances, such as constipation or nausea, headaches and general malaise or feeling unwell. Swollen limbs, particularly the feet, due to inactivity add to the discomfort, and the possibility of blood clots forming is another risk of air travel.

Once at your destination sleep patterns are often disturbed and it may take several days to enjoy an unbroken night’s sleep. This may adversely affect holiday plans so recovering from the effects of travel should be taken into account when planning any holiday.

Treating jet lag is not always easy. Homeopathic tablets are thought to help travellers recover from the effects of extended travel, but their effectiveness is unproven. It is advised that to lessen the consequences of jetlag keep well hydrated during the flight, avoid caffeine and alcohol containing drinks, and try to sleep well before you travel.

Stretch and exercise your legs and feet during the flight to increase the blood circulating during the flight. If possible walk around during any stopovers to lessen the possibility of blood clots forming.

Talk to your pharmacist about how you can lessen the effects of air travel. They can give you advice as to suitable treatments to try to lessen jetlag and to allow you to recover from flights so that you can enjoy more of your holiday.

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school sores

School sores is the common name for impetigo, which is a highly contagious skin infection. The bacteria that cause impetigo are normally on the surface of the skin and in the air around us. When skin gets broken by scratches, insect bites or other injuries bacteria can enter the body, multiply and form sores around the injured area.

Children commonly get this condition, which is why it is called school sores, as they frequently pass it on to others around them. However, adults or those in contact with others with the sores can also develop the infection. Some people may also get infected after a cold or viral chest infection - those that live in cold or damp living conditions seem to be more likely to develop impetigo and to pass the condition onto others living around them.

The first sign of school sores is usually a fluid-filled blister that develops over an insect bite or other minor skin injury. The area is generally very itchy and scratching will break the blister, spreading bacteria-filled yellow fluid and leaving a reddened area of skin underneath. Scratching spreads the infection onto other areas and further damages intact skin. The open blister oozes a yellow fluid forming a crust, which develops into a sore. Commonly the sores spread around that area and move to surrounding areas of skin, particularly around the lips and chin in children. The infection may also result in swollen glands in the groin if the sores are on the legs or in the armpit if the arms are affected.

School sores are easily treated with antibiotic cream or in more severe cases, antibiotics taken by mouth. As the fluid from the sores and the crust helps spread the infection when touched, the sores must be covered with a dressing or sticking plaster, if possible. Washing the affected areas and surrounding skin gently with warm soapy water or an antiseptic skin wash helps to remove the surface bacteria and wash away the crust. This should be done at least twice a day to aid healing and prevent the sores spreading further. Care must be taken to change washcloths and towels after each use in order to prevent spreading the infection to others.

Most cases of school sores heal quickly once effective treatment is started and the skin usually heals without scarring. Young children often get re-infected, by themselves or others, so it is important to check their skin carefully for injuries or the early signs of blisters and sores developing.

Consult your community pharmacist if you believe you or your family may have impetigo or other skin infections. In some cases, early detection of school sores can be treated with products that you can buy over the counter from a pharmacy. Your pharmacist is able to guide you to effective treatment or refer you to your doctor to treat school sores, as well as to give you advice to manage and to prevent further infection.



Warts are caused by a virus that affects the cells of the surface of the skin and causes rough lumps to grow either out of or into the skin and tissue underneath the site of infection.

There are several different types of wart, and they are grouped into three main types, but all are caused by direct contact with someone else with the wart infection.

A planar wart or verruca is found on the feet, and is usually transferred from person to person in places such as changing rooms and showers where minute damage to the surface of the skin can allow the virus to enter the sole of the foot. They cause considerable pain and discomfort when standing or walking.

Common warts may occur anywhere and often develop into clusters over time. They are frequently transferred between children and teenagers and are not usually harmful but may cause some discomfort if they are subjected to pressure or frequent injury. Usually common warts are found on fingers, knees and the back of the hands, and they form small raised lumps that can develop into cauliflower-like growths.

Genital warts are spread by sexual contact, they occur around the sexual organs and may also develop into clusters but they do not usually cause any pain. Any warts, lumps or changes to the genital area should be reported to a doctor for treatment as soon as they are noticed.

Most other warts are easily treated with preparations available from your community pharmacy. Wart treatments available from your pharmacy are either sprays which freeze the wart or lotions that you apply onto the wart to burn it off over a period of time. Successful removal of warts requires repeated treatment as the wart viruses are difficult to treat so be prepared to persevere in order to prevent the wart growing back.

It is important when treating warts to protect the skin around the wart as it may be damaged by the treatment you may use. Your community pharmacist can advise you of the most suitable treatment to remove warts effectively and can advise you about protecting the skin around treated warts in order to prevent any damage to the skin.

Speak to your pharmacist - they know how to help you treat minor skin conditions and infections such as warts.



Worms are one of the most common conditions that children catch, occasionally from pets, but usually from themselves, or other infected people. There are several types of worms that can affect humans, but in New Zealand the usual culprit is the threadworm.

You catch worms by eating the worm’s eggs which hatch in the intestines to produce the worm. This worm will then travel out the intestines and lay further eggs around the anus, causing itching. If the area is scratched the eggs may lodge under the fingernails. They are then spread by touching food or other people, infecting either themselves again or others.

You can detect if your child has worms if they have the thread-like worms in their poo or suffer from an itching bottom, particularly at night, where the small eggs may be seen.

Treating worms is generally simple. Most people are treated successfully by preparations available from your community pharmacist. However, not all worm preparations are safe for all, so you need to seek advice about whether worm treatments are suitable for everyone in your family. It is usual to treat all family members, in case the infection has spread beyond the affected person. If you cannot be treated for any reason, then you should be careful to practice good hygiene, keeping fingernails short and well-scrubbed, especially after touching an infected person or their belongings. Affected skin, particularly around the bottom, can be soothed by protective creams used for nappy rash.

If you believe that you or anyone in your family may have worms, consult your community pharmacist for treatments and advice on how to prevent reinfection.

If you have been travelling to other countries, and suspect a worm infection, or have been feeling tired or are suffering from diarrhoea, you may have been infected with some other more sinister parasite that will need an alternative treatment in order to eradicate the infection. Your community pharmacist will be able to supply you with the advice you need to address this.



Scabies is an intensely itchy skin rash. It is caused by an allergic reaction
to a tiny insect (called a mite), which burrows under the skin surface.
Scabies is easily spread and will not go away without treatment.

Key points about scabies 

  • Scabies is spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infested person, or through shared bedding or clothing.

  • You need to treat scabies with a lotion or cream called permethrin. It won’t go away on its own.

  • Everyone who lives in the same household as the infested person needs to be treated.

  • Decontaminate all clothing and bedding by washing in hot water.

  • The itch may continue for a few weeks even though the mite is gone. See your doctor if itchiness continues for longer than 6 weeks.


What causes scabies?
Scabies is caused by tiny insects (mites), which burrow along just under the surface of the
skin, laying eggs as they go. Scabies mites are so tiny, you can't see them with the naked eye.
The itchy rash is due to an allergic reaction to the scabies mite, mite poo (faeces), and mite eggs.

How do you get scabies?
Anyone can get scabies. It is not due to poor hygiene. Scabies is more common when you have lots of people together in close contact. Sometimes outbreaks of scabies occur in places such as kindys and residential homes, where people are in regular close contact. Washing with soap will not prevent or cure it. Scabies is usually spread by direct, prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies. Contact generally needs to be prolonged – you are unlikely to get scabies from a quick handshake or hug.

Scabies is spread easily to household members and sexual partners.
Scabies can also be spread by sharing articles such as clothing, towels, or bedding used by an infested person.

How do you know if you have scabies?
One of the first symptoms of scabies is a very itchy rash. This is usually worse at bedtime or when you are warm, such as when you are in bed, or after a shower. 
Symptoms generally start 3 to 6 weeks after infestation. However, if you’ve had scabies before, then the rash can start after only 1 to 3 days.
The scabies rash generally looks like multiple small red bumps that can appear anywhere
on the body. The most common sites are between the fingers, on the wrists, inside the
elbows, around the waist, on the bottom or private parts and under the armpits. The rash

does not usually appear on the head except in very young children. Many conditions can
cause a similar rash and so it can easily be confused with other skin conditions such
as dermatitis or hives.
Not all people who have the scabies mite have itching. A person can spread scabies, even
if they do not have symptoms, until they are successfully treated and the mites and eggs
are killed.

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