It feels horrible having an infection but the occasion one is a normal part of life. Here is some information to help guide you through which infections would benefit from seeing the GP and which ones are best staying at home and resting. 

Sore Throat

Sore throats are very common and usually nothing to worry about. They normally get better by themselves within a week. 82% of people are better within this time. Antibiotics are rarely used and only shorten an illness by up to 16 hours.



How to treat a sore throat yourself

To help soothe a sore throat and shorten how long it lasts you can:

  • gargle with warm salty water (children shouldn’t try this)
  • drink plenty of water – but avoid hot drinks
  • eat cool or soft foods
  • avoid smoking or smoky places
  • suck ice cubes, ice lollies or hard sweets – but don’t give young children anything small and hard to suck because of the risk of choking
  • rest

Please contact a pharmacist for advice on pain relief. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are commonly used. 


See a GP if:

  • Your illness persists for more than a week
  • You have a weakened immune system
  • You are unable to swallow your own saliva
  • You are feverish and have white pus on your tonsils
  • Ring 999 if you have breathing difficulty. 

Warts and Verrucas

These are small lumps which grow on the skin that most people have at some point in their life. 

They are harmless and will usually go away on their own but this can take months or even years.


You do not need to see the GP for a wart or verruca. Treatment is not necessary but if you want to try then your local pharmacist can give you advice. 

The most common treatment is using Salicylic Acid Gel, often know as Bazuka. You can buy this from the chemist and treatment may need to be continued for up to 3 months. 

Freezing is available with Dr Welch but there is no evidence it is more effective than using Salicylic Acid and there is a small risk attached to the procedure.

Do see your GP if you have a facial wart or if you have an enlarging lump that is brown or pigmented.  

If you have genital warts please contact the GUM clinic on:  01622 225713


Ear Infection

Ear infections are very common, particularly in children. You don’t always need to see a GP for an ear infection as they often get better on their own within 3 days.

Here is a link to more in depth information about ear infections.

If you think you have an outer ear infection please speak to your local pharmacist.  They can recommend acidic ear drops to help stop bacteria or fungus spreading.  Acetic Acid drops are available without prescription and are as affective as antibiotics in simple infections.

If you think you have an inner ear infection it is best to take pain relief and most will improve within three days. Antibiotics aren’t usually offered because inner ear infections often clear up on their own, and they make little difference to symptoms, including pain.

However there are occasions when seeing a GP is necessary:

  • an ear infection doesn’t start to get better after 3 days
  • you or your child has fluid coming out of their ear
  • you or your child has an illness that means there’s a risk of complications, such as cystic fibrosis
  • swelling around the ear
  • regular ear infections
  • you or your child are very unwell