Self Care Products

Non-prescription medicines can be bought without a doctor’s prescription. Most can be bought in a pharmacy. Some can be bought in outlets such as supermarkets or health food stores.

They include over-the-counter medicines and complementary medicines, such as vitamins and minerals, herbals, homoeopathic and aromatherapy products.

The ‘schedule’ of a self care product determines where it can be sold:

  • Products labelled ‘Pharmacist-Only Medicine’ can only be bought in a pharmacy. They are usually stored in the dispensary. The pharmacist is required to be involved in the sale to provide advice and to ensure that the medicine is appropriate for the consumer.

    These products are also called Schedule 3 medicines or over-the-counter medicines.

  • Those labelled ‘Pharmacy Medicine’ can only be bought in a pharmacy, but can usually be self-selected by the consumer. The pharmacist is available to provide advice if it is requested by the consumer.

    These products are also called Schedule 2 medicines or over-the-counter medicines.

  • Unscheduled or general sale over-the-counter and complementary medicines can be bought either in pharmacies or from other outlets such as supermarkets and health food stores.

Unless otherwise recommended, self care products are only for short-term use.


Self care products are available to help treat or relieve symptoms of a large range of indications and conditions. The following list gives examples:

  • Allergy and hayfever
  • Coughs and colds, including sore throats and fever
  • Motion/travel sickness
  • Smoking cessation
  • Sleeping aids
  • Pain relief, e.g.
    • headache
    • dental pain
    • arthritic and joint pain
    • menstrual pain
    • migraine
    • muscular pain, including sprains and strains
  • Eye, ear and mouth conditions, e.g.
    • conjunctivitis
    • sore, tired eyes
    • ear wax and swimmer’s ear
    • baby teething
    • dental hygiene
    • mouth ulcers
  • Gastro-intestinal disorders, e.g.
    • antacids for heartburn and indigestion, nausea and upset stomach
    • infant colic/gripe
    • constipation
    • diarrhoea
    • irritable bowel syndrome, including flatulence or wind
    • haemorrhoids
    • worms
  • Skin and scalp conditions, e.g.
    • acne and pimples
    • antiseptics for first aid use
    • baby care, including nappy rash and cradle cap
    • cold sores
    • corns and warts
    • dandruff
    • dry skin, eczema and psoriasis
    • footcare
    • fungal infections, such as tinea/athletes foot, ringworm
    • hair loss and baldness
    • head lice
    • insect bites and stings
    • rashes
    • scabies
    • skin allergies, hives and itching
    • sunscreens and sunburn
  • Urinary and gynaecological conditions, e.g.
    • cystitis – a bladder inflammation with frequent and burning urination
    • menstrual pain
    • vaginal thrush