Help protect yourself throughout winter and the coronavirus pandemic with these self-care tips

You can find information below on how to take care of yourself this winter as we combat common winter ailments as well as coronavirus.

Self-care and coronavirus

If you think you have or may have mild symptoms that are caused by the coronavirus, then you should stay at home and begin to self-isolate for 10 days. Remember to book a test if you have not already done so as this will determine the length of self-isolation.

The main symptoms are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

You can find more information about the symptoms here

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If you think you are experiencing any symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has, remember to book a test  as this will advise you on how long you should self-isolate for.

Do not leave the house even if it is to see your GP, Pharmacy or Hospital.

Your local pharmacy can help you by providing advice, consultations over the phone and delivering medications to your door. Call your local pharmacy for more information on how they can support your needs


You can find advice relating to the below minor conditions:

Coughs, colds and congestion



Burn/ scald

Travel sick

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Washing your hands

Bacteria and viruses like the coronavirus can survive indoors for more than 24 hours. These organisms can easily spread onto surfaces such as door handles, clothes and even to other people from our very own hands. This is why it is important to either wash your hands regularly with soapy water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands regularly.

How do I wash my hands?

  1. Firstly, wet your hands with running water
  2. Apply enough soap to cover both your hands
  3. Scrub your hands, including the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails for a minimum of 20 seconds (OR sing happy birthday twice)
  4. Rinse your hands with clean water
  5. Dry your hands with a clean cloth

Self-care and Winter

Self-care refers to the actions we take to recognise, treat and manage our own health. It’s about doing small, everyday things for yourself to keep healthy and happy.

Download your guide to being self-care aware here.

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The aim of self-care is to empower us as individuals to take responsibility of our own health. By encouraging self-care, we inspire healthy behaviours, prevent ill-health, help the NHS save money and free up resources on other areas of the NHS.

Visiting your local pharmacist is a great way to practice self-care. Pharmacists are trained professionals who handle medications on a daily basis. They are a great resource to use; they provide quick and easy advice on how to manage minor illnesses like aches/pains, coughs, cold, and many other conditions. They can help you choose the right over-the-counter medication that best suits you, saving you a visit to your general practice.

It is important to remember that antibiotics will not help treat a cold or flu. By using antibiotics you may be reducing their effectiveness in the future. Cold and flu symptoms should subside within a few days following plenty of rest, keeping well hydrated and taking over the counter medications as needed.

Be prepared this winter by making sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked. There is a variety of items we can have at home to treat minor illnesses such as pain relief medications, lozenges, cold and cough syrups, antihistamines, and much more. Speak to your local pharmacist for more information.

Examples pf medicine cabinet items:

Pain relief medications: Paracetamol, Ibuprofen or aspirin are all effective in treating minor ailments such as: headaches, minor aches/pains, period pains, Inflammation from arthritis or sprains, the common cold, reducing your temperature.  

Lozenges, antiseptic sprays/mouthwash, and paracetamol: theseare great for treating symptoms of a fever, cough or sore throat.

Antihistamines:these can be in the formof tablets, creams, nasal sprays and eye drops and are great for treating insect bites, allergic reaction, itchy rashes, itchy eyes and hay-fever (note: some antihistamines can cause drowsiness. Please check with your local pharmacist for further information).

Anti-diarrhoea, constipation and indigestion remedies: There are a variety of products you could buy over the counter to help relieve your symptoms. Speak to your pharmacist for more information.

Note: please read and follow the patient information leaflet available with each over the counter medication or speak to your pharmacist for more information.

If you are concerned about a medical condition and need health related advice and cannot get through to your pharmacy then you can use the NHS 111 service. This is a FREE helpline service with trained healthcare professionals that provide quick and easy advice available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!

When to contact the NHS 111 team:

  • Concerned about an urgent medical condition
  • Concerned you may need to go to A&E (They will assess your need and send an ambulance if need be)
  • You need access to other urgent health care services (mental health, nurse, dentist, optician, pharmacist or GP)
  • You are not registered with a GP practice
  • You need health advice and don’t know who to call

NOTE: for immediate life threatening emergencies call 999.

For less urgent health needs and advice, please contact your local pharmacy or GP practice.

Self-care tips to help you get started:

  • Implement positive lifestyle choices by eating well and receiving a good nutritional diet
  • Exercising on a regular basis (minimum of 20 minutes a day) to boost immunity and general wellbeing
  • Taking supplements, especially vitamin D for those shielding at home.
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Keeping well hydrated (6-8 glasses of water a day)
  • Stay connected with family and support bubbles to continue to support your mental wellbeing
  • Increasing your understanding on how to manage minor and long term medical conditions.

New vitamin D Guidance:

Vitamin D is a very important nutrient that helps us keep our muscles, bones and teeth healthy. A lack of this can cause bone deformities (rickets) in children, muscle weakness and bone pain in adults and can increase the risk of falls in older people.

Most of our vitamin D comes from the sun. However, between October-March there is not enough sunlight for us to absorb to make the amount of vitamin D needed. Therefore it is very important to take vitamin D supplements especially in the winter. 

There are many people who are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency for example:

  • Those that have had to self-isolate
  • Those that have had to shield because of the coronavirus
  • Dark skinned people
  • People living in care homes
  • People who cover most of their skin when outdoor

It is important that these people take vitamin D supplements all year round. More information can be found at the UK-GOV website. 

It is important to take the vitamin D supplements even if you do not fall into the extremely clinically vulnerable category. Vitamin D tablets can be purchased from your supermarket, they can be ordered online when ordering your weekly shop or through reliable online websites, you can also purchase them from a pharmacy and the pharmacy team should be able to advise you on the most appropriate treatment.

All people who can buy the vitamin D supplements are advised to start now even if they will be receiving their delivery later on.

You can find more information regarding the vitamin D scheme hereand For more advice on the self-care guidance and the strength of the tablets please visit Derby and Derbyshire Position statement of self-care with Vitamin D.

The advice and information is also available in multiple languages. If you know someone who may not be able to understand this information and would require this to be translated into another language please help them by visiting the Clinical guidelines on nutrition and blood page.



Pain killers
Cold and flu remedies
Anti-diarrhoea medication
Oral rehydration salts
Indigestion remedies

First Aid

Eyewash solution
Sterile dressing

Having some medicines at home means peace of mind.

Condition-Specific Patient Information Leaflets

Please find helpful guidance on treating various conditions below.