Over The Counter (OTC) Medication


A GP, Nurse or Pharmacist will generally not give you a prescription for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for a range of minor health conditions.

Instead you will be advised to purchase these directly with a pharmacy or in a supermarket.

Find your nearest Pharmacy here


You can buy OTC medicines for any of these conditions:

  • acute sore throat
  • minor burns and scalds
  • conjunctivitis
  • mild cystitis
  • coughs, colds and nasal congestion
  • mild dry skin
  • cradle cap
  • mild irritant dermatitis
  • dandruff
  • mild to moderate hay fever
  • diarrhoea (adults)
  • dry eyes and sore tired eyes
  • mouth ulcers
  • earwax
  • nappy rash
  • excessive sweating
  • infant colic
  • sunburn
  • infrequent cold sores of the lip
  • sun protection
  • infrequent constipation
  • teething or mild toothache
  • infrequent migraine
  • threadworms
  • insect bites and stings
  • travel sickness
  • mild acne
  • warts and verrucas
  • haemorrhoids (piles)
  • oral thrush
  • head lice
  • prevention of tooth decay
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • ringworm or athlete's foot
  • minor pain, discomfort and fever (such as aches and sprains, headache, period pain, and back pain)


In some cases, you can still get prescriptions for medicines used to treat these conditions.

You may still be prescribed a medicine for a condition on the list if:

  • you need treatment for a long-term condition, for example regular pain relief for chronic arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease
  • you need treatment for more complex forms of minor illnesses, for example migraines that are very bad and where OTC medicines do not work
  • you need an OTC medicine to treat a side effect of a prescription medicine or symptom of another illness, such as constipation when taking certain painkillers
  • the medicine has a licence that does not allow the product to be sold to certain groups of patients. This could include babies, children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • the person prescribing thinks that a patient cannot treat themselves, for example because of mental health problems

*Information above taken from NHS website 27-06-2022



1) I cannot afford to buy medication over the counter, what can I do?

Pharmacies in the Lewisham borough may be able to issue some acute medication free of charge. This is called the 'Pharmacy First Scheme'

Click here to read more information about Pharmacy First Scheme

If you answer yes to all the following points, you'll be eligible to get advice and treatment for free.

  • You are registered with a GP in Lewisham
  • You don't normally pay for your prescriptions
  • you are suffering from one of the conditions listed below
Acne Hayfever
Athlete's Foot Head Lice
Cold Sores Indigestion/Heartburn/Tummy Upset/Vomiting
Conjunctivitis Insect bites and stings
Cough/Cold/Flu/High Temperature Mouth Ulcers
Prevention of fever after vaccination Mouth or gum swelling
Constipation Nasal Congestion
Cystitis in adult females Nappy Rash
Dandruff Pain
Diarrhoea Sore Throat
Dry Eyes Teething
Eczema, Dry or Itchy Skin Threadworms 
Ear Wax Thrush
Haemorrhoids (Piles) Warts and Verrucaes