Blood Pressure – what you need to know

Blood pressure refers to the amount of work that our heart has to do to pump blood around the body. It measures how strongly blood presses against the walls of your arteries (large blood vessels) during this process. If this pressure is too high it puts a strain on your arteries and your heart, which makes it more likely that you will suffer a heart attack, a stroke or kidney disease.

Circulatory system disease is the number one cause of death in Ireland. Treatment and detection starts with you.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (which is written as mmHg) and it is recorded as two figures:

  1. Systolic pressure: the pressure of the blood when your heart beats to pump blood out
  2. Diastolic pressure: the pressure of the blood when your heart rests in between beats

The normal level of blood pressure is usually about 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic) written as 120/80mmHg.

“If you are over 30, it’s best to have your blood pressure checked every year”

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (medically known as hypertension) is when blood pressure readings taken on separate occasions consistently show your blood pressure to be 140/90mmHg or higher. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it means your blood pressure is consistently higher than it should be. Thankfully, there are several ways to help reduce it which we will talk you through below.

Causes and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

There is often no single cause of high blood pressure and therefore it is really important to check your blood pressure readings regularly. A number of factors can combine to raise blood pressure, and high blood pressure tends to run in families. It is not a disease of a nervous, anxious person or someone with a stressful lifestyle – though these factors can sometimes impact a reading.

In some rare cases, where a person has very high blood pressure, they can experience symptoms including:

  • A persistent headache
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Shortness of breath

Measuring Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you should have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, even if it is not high. Watching your blood pressure while you are pregnant reduces your risk of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension. This can lead to a serious condition called pre-eclampsia which harms the placenta (the organ that links the baby’s blood supply to the mother’s).

Haven pharmacies offer blood pressure tests which only take a couple of minutes. We are always on hand to offer advice and measure your blood pressure.

Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure is medically known as hypotension. On its own, low blood pressure does not always cause symptoms. If you have low blood pressure, and you do not have any symptoms, you do not require treatment.

Causes and Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure within certain parameters is considered good. However, GPs will look out for symptoms of low blood pressure that may cause concern. These symptoms which can occur when standing up from a seated or lying position or after eating include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Dehydration and unusual thirst
  • Lack of concentration
  • Blurred vision
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Fatigue

Measuring Your Blood Pressure

Blood pressure checks are available in your local Haven pharmacy, GPs and health clinics. If you have one high reading, it does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure. Blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day and night. Therefore, you will need to measure your blood pressure on numerous occasions over a certain period of time. You can purchase a home testing monitor from your Haven pharmacy which will allow you to take readings when you are relaxed throughout the day and night.

“The more blood pressure readings you have, the more accurate your diagnosis will be, particularly as blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day and night”


Treating Blood Pressure

There are a few key steps that we can all do to prevent high blood pressure:

  1. Know your blood pressure
  2. Aim for a healthy weight
  3. Reduce salt intake and processed food
  4. Eat more fruit and vegetables
  5. Drink less alcohol and caffeine rich drinks such as tea, coffee and soft drinks
  6. Increase exercise
  7. Relaxation therapies such as yoga, meditation and stress management
  8. Don’t smoke – smoking greatly increases your risk of heart and lung disease

Medication is also available for high blood pressure, this should be discussed with your GP.

How Haven Can Help

At Haven pharmacy, we are dedicated to improve the health and well-being of people within our local communities. We are independent with shared goals for the future of Ireland’s health. Drop into your local Haven to discuss blood pressure or to pick up a home blood pressure monitor.


Sources: Irish Heart Foundation, Health Service Executive Ireland


Cervical Cancer Prevention – Get the Facts

As it’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, we try to explain in simple terms a little more about cervical cancer, the symptoms and causes. From the outset, it’s important to emphasise that there is no 100% effective method to prevent cervical cancer and therefore it is crucial that women continue to have regular cervical smear tests.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina). Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages. Therefore it is vital that we educate ourselves and our children around prevention, vaccinations and testing.


As noted, cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages. If you do have symptoms, the most common is unusual vaginal bleeding, which can occur after sex, in between periods or after the menopause. Abnormal bleeding doesn’t mean that you definitely have cervical cancer, but it should be investigated by your GP as soon as possible. If your GP thinks you might have cervical cancer, you should be referred to see a specialist within two weeks.

What Causes Cervical Cancer?

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a very common virus that can be passed on through any type of sexual contact with a man or a woman. There are more than 100 different types of HPV, many of which are harmless. However, some types of HPV can cause abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix, which can eventually lead to cervical cancer.

Two strains of the HPV virus (HPV 16 and HPV 18) are known to be responsible for 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. These types of HPV infection don’t have any symptoms, so many women won’t realise they have the infection. However, it’s important to be aware that these infections are relatively common and most women who have them don’t develop cervical cancer.

Can I Prevent Cervical Cancer?

There are many ways in which you can lessen your risk of contracting cervical cancer, however, taking these precautions cannot fully protect you and it is pivotal that you continue to get cervical checks on a regular basis once you have become sexually active.

Safe Sex

Most cases of cervical cancer are linked to an infection with certain types of human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV can be spread through unprotected sex, so using a condom can reduce your risk of developing the infection. However, the virus isn’t just passed on through penetrative sex – it can be transmitted during other types of sexual contact, such as skin-to-skin contact between genital areas and by using sex toys.

Screening for Cervical Cancer

Over the course of many years, the cells lining the surface of the cervix undergo a series of changes. In rare cases, these precancerous cells can become cancerous. However, cell changes in the cervix can be detected at a very early stage and treatment can reduce the risk of cervical cancer developing. An abnormal cervical screening test doesn’t mean you definitely have cancer. Most abnormal results are caused by an infection or the presence of treatable precancerous cells, rather than cancer itself.

Cervical Cancer Vaccination

The HPV vaccine works in the same way as other vaccines. The body reacts by making special proteins, called antibodies, which help the immune system fight and clear the HPV infection so it can’t cause cancer. The vaccine works best for girls and boys who have not been exposed to the virus through sexual activity although HPV vaccine can also be given to adults up to 26 years of age. In Ireland, the HPV vaccine is offered free of charge to all girls in their 1st year of second level school. The vaccine is given through injection into the upper part of the arm in two doses, six months apart, via a school-based programme. However, in specific instances some girls will be invited to special HSE clinics for their vaccines.

The vaccine is recommended by

  • the World Health Organization
  • the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • the National Immunisation Advisory Committee

Avoid Smoking

You can reduce your chances of getting cervical cancer by not smoking. People who smoke are less able to get rid of the HPV infection from the body, which can develop into cancer. For more information and advice on giving up smoking, see our blog: Never Quit Quitting

If I Have Had the HPV Vaccine, Do I Still Need to Get Tested?

YES! The vaccine does not protect you against all types of HPV. The vaccine targets the main HPV types. If you have been exposed to the virus already, the vaccine may not protect you. It reduces your risk of cervical cancer but does not remove it. So, it is important that all women, aged 25 to 60, continue to have regular cervical smear tests.

Can the Vaccine Be Given to Boys?

Yes – HPV vaccines have also been shown to be effective in preventing infection in men. This is not recommended as part of the school programme in Ireland at present. If you wish to get your son vaccinated you will need to pay for the vaccine and the administration of the vaccine privately with your doctor.

The vaccination of teenage boys increases the preventative effects of the vaccine against other cancers, such as anal cancer, where HPV infection can be associated and also prevents HPV-vaccinated boys passing the infection to unvaccinated partners.

Getting Tested

In Ireland, the Government launched a national cervical screening programme in 2008 called CervicalCheck. This programme provides free smear tests to women aged 25-60. For more details about this service in your area, call 1800 45 45 55, visit or contact your local GP.

Sources of Information: The Irish Cancer Society and The NHS UK

For more information, you can contact the Irish Cancer Society on Freephone 1800 200 700 or visit

Scabies, a common and treatable condition…

Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by a parasitic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei that burrows into your skin. It is highly contagious and can easily be passed from one person to another through direct skin contact or infested clothing or bedding. Outbreaks often occur in confined environments such as schools, sports locker rooms, prisons or nursing homes, where people are in close proximity to each other.

Scabies mites cannot fly or jump and can only be transmitted from one person to another by prolonged, direct physical contact such as prolonged holding hands, or having sexual intercourse with an infected person. Transmission through brief and limited physical contact, such as shaking hands or hugging someone is unlikely but it can sometimes occur by sharing clothes, towels or bedding with an infected person.



After the initial exposure to scabies, it can take up to twelve weeks for symptoms to appear. The symptoms usually develop more quickly in people who’ve had scabies before. The most common symptoms are severe itchiness and a pimple-like rash. Occasionally, tiny burrows may be seen in the skin.

  • Intense Itching

The itch is caused by the body’s reaction to the mites droppings. It may take four to six weeks for the itch to develop initially, however if you have been infected before, you can have symptoms in 1-2 days. The itch is generally worse at night or after a hot bath/shower when your skin is warmer.

  • Rash

The rash usually appears shortly after the itching starts. It is typically a blotchy, lumpy, red rash. The rash can usually affect any part of the body, apart from the head. It is usually most obvious on the inside of the thighs, around the waist, buttocks, armpits and groin area.


  • Infection

Continuous scratching of the infected area can create sores that become infected. If this occurs, additional treatment with antibiotics for the skin infection may be recommended. Our Haven pharmacists will be able to advise you about whether you will need to consult your GP once they see the rash.


Common Sites for Scabies:

  • Wrist
  • Elbow
  • Armpit
  • Nipple
  • Penis
  • Waist
  • Buttocks
  • Area between the fingers
  • Knees
  • Ankles
  • Area between toes



It’s a good idea to visit your Haven pharmacist first, as they can often diagnose scabies by the appearance of the rash and advise on whether or not to visit your GP.

The most common treatment is Permethrin Cream (Lyclear).


  • Permethrin Cream (Lyclear) is considered safe, easy to apply and tends not to irritate the skin. It should be left on the skin for at least eight hours and may not be used on the head and necks of children under two years. This is available over-the-counter and on prescription from your Haven pharmacy and can be used on babies from 2 months. An adult will need 30g (one tube of cream) to cover the body. Particular attention should be paid to difficult-to-reach areas, such as your back, the soles of your feet, in between your fingers and toes, under fingernails, and on your genitals.  The cream is applied when your skin is cool and dry, not after a hot shower or bath. It is left on for 8-12 hours before washing it off thoroughly. It is important to reapply the cream to any area that is washed during the treatment period e.g. hands. This treatment should be repeated after 7 days.
  • A lotion containing an insecticide called malathion is also available but mainly used only if permethrin cream has not worked. Unlike permethrin cream it needs to be left on the body for 24 hours before washing off.

Creams should be applied to the whole body except the head and neck of all household members, close contacts and sexual partners of the infected person. This precaution should be taken at the same time by all those possibly affected, even if these people don’t have symptoms of scabies, to avoid reinfection.



If someone you know has been infected with scabies, it’s important that you take the following steps as well as using the treatment mentioned above

  • Wash all clothes, towels and bed linen at a temperature above 50 degrees Celsius on the day you first apply the cream to kill the scabies mites.
  • Clothing that cannot be washed should be kept in a sealed plastic bag for 72 hours to contain the mites until they die.
  • Other alternatives to kill mites are ironing with a hot iron, dry cleaning or putting the items in a dryer on a hot cycle for 10-30 min.


Haven Pharmacist Advice

  • Wash hands before and after use of the cream
  • Patients should see your doctor or Haven pharmacist if you think you might have scabies, especially if they are elderly or have a lowered immunity. These patients are more at risk of developing crusted or Norwegian scabies, a rare form of scabies where there are a large number of mites on the skin.
  • Repeated scratching of the skin may break the skins surface, increasing the chance of secondary bacterial infections. These will often require antibiotic treatment from your doctor.
  • If you find that symptoms persist after four weeks of treatment, we would recommend contacting your Doctor right away.
  • It is important to ask your Haven pharmacist for advice on which treatment to use and to make them aware of any drugs you may be taking or if you have any allergies



Transform Your New Year

January can be tough! Not only are we suffering the come down after the festive season, we are all generally trying to improve our health and well-being – which can sometimes feel like deprivation or punishment. The good news is, it doesn’t have to feel this way. At your local Haven Pharmacy, you have access to expert advice on health, nutrition, smoking cessation and a range of topics for you and your little ones to get 2018 off to a great start!


Haven Health Check Service

This service includes cholesterol testing, blood glucose testing, Body Mass Index Measurement, Blood Pressure testing. We provide you with an easy-to-understand written record of your results that you can discuss with our pharmacist in confidence. We will tell you where you can get the right kind of help to improve your health and if there is anything you can do yourself to instantly start making a difference. (As this service uses very advanced technology we apply a small charge).


 Free Blood Pressure Testing

High Blood Pressure puts extra strain on your arteries and your heart and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes. High Blood Pressure can also damage the eyes and kidneys if left untreated. In most cases, hypertension can be known as a ‘silent disease’ in that it may produce no symptoms even while it is damaging the body. This is why it is important to have your blood pressure checked periodically even if you feel fine. Managing high Blood Pressure is something we will be happy to help you with.


Weight Measurement and BMI

Talk to the experts in your local Haven Pharmacy about their weight measurement programmes and nutritional advice. Many of our pharmacies have programmes to regularly monitor your weight and BMI and all our staff will be able to provide you with expert advice on minor changes that can make a big difference to your health.


Smoking Cessation

Follow our 8 Step Guide to giving up smoking this year, put together by our experts. Our key message in relation to smoking cessation is to be kind to yourself, you can do it and never quit quitting!! This is one of the best things you can do for yourself this year. You will reduce your risk of cancers, heart problems and general health by kicking this habit.


Remember that decisions to improve your health are a great start to the new year. However, they are not limited to January. Set your goals, try to stick to them as best you can, but don’t give up if you feel like you’ve ‘failed’ –  you’re trying, therefore you are not failing! Everyone has difficult days, keep going and be good to yourself. At Haven, our priority is looking after you and your family. Call into us today for some expert advice.

2 Most Common Reasons People Avoid The Flu Vaccine

Getting your flu vaccine, is now more convenient than ever before.

Ever chat with your friends about the flu vaccine? Do you all get it? If not, why? In January 2017, the Health Service Executive issued a statement indicating that uptake on the vaccine was “nowhere near” where it ought to be. Why do you think that is? Flu is responsible for 200-500 deaths a year in Ireland and can even reach the 1000s in an epidemic. So why have we a low uptake on the vaccine?

Here’s the two most common misconceptions we find among men, and the truth behind them

  1. “I don’t need the vaccine, I’ve never had the flu”

Luckily many of us have never had the flu and if you are not in the at risk category getting the flu will probably just result in a few days in bed with fatigue, aches and pains, nasal congestion and a bad cough. However if you are in one of the at risk categories getting the flu can result in serious illness, in some cases require a stay in hospital and may even be life threatening. For this reason if you are in one of the at risk categories you should get the flu vaccine every year.

  1. “I don’t want the vaccine because it will give me the flu”

Impossible. The vaccine can’t give you the flu. The most common side effects will be mild and may include soreness, redness or swelling where the injection was given. Headache, fever, aches and tiredness may occur. Some people may have mild sweating and shivering as their immune system responds to the vaccine, but this is not flu and will pass after a day or so.

At Risk Groups

  • Persons aged 65 and older
  • Those with long term medical conditions such as diabetes and chronic heart, kidney, lung or Neurological disease
  • People whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment including all cancer patients
  • Persons with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40
  • Pregnant women (at any stage in pregnancy)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
  • People with regular close contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs
  • Health care workers
  • Carers


Since October 2011, pharmacists in Ireland have been authorised to administer the seasonal influenza vaccine. These additions to the pharmacists’ role have been widely welcomed, with former Minister for Health and current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying that

“Pharmacy-based vaccine is an excellent example of safely making health services more accessible to patients”.

leo getting flu vaccine

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar getting his flu shot 

Reasons to Visit Your Haven Pharmacy

  • Expert Advice – Our Pharmacists are fully trained and qualified, but also our staff have been trained, so from the moment you walk in you are in safe hands. We provide you with all the information you need, answer any questions or concerns you may have and help you to set up your vaccine appointment
  • We Care – At Haven, we pride ourselves on ‘Care in the Community’ and providing you with ‘Expert Care, Made Personal’. Our priority is the health and wellbeing of the people in our local communities. We are happy to take time to explain anything to our customers and patients so that you are confident in making your own decisions
  • Convenience – Our 54 Haven Pharmacies are embedded in local communities throughout Ireland. Many of our pharmacies provide the flu vaccine and all our pharmacists can give advice and information around the vaccine.

Find your local Haven here and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with health information, and the latest news from Haven pharmacy, your charity partners.



Never Quit Quitting! Smoking Cessation with Haven

Have you tried to give up smoking in the past? Have you managed to give up for long periods of time and then one little slip spiraled you back to your former full-time smoking self? Has the disappointment in returning to this bad habit put you off trying to quit again? DON’T LET IT! … NEVER QUIT QUITTING

According to recent studies, it can take between 6 and 142 times for some people to give up smoking (a successful quitter is measured on having not had a cigarette for 12 months).

Giving Up

There are a range of very effective over the counter remedies available from your Haven pharmacy to help stop smoking. Please speak to one of our trained advisers or ask your Haven

pharmacist if you would like advice on which treatment is best suited to your needs. With our customers health in mind, we have put a plan in place for anyone that wants to quit.

Quit Smoking

  1. Decide to Quit

Write down all the reasons why you want to quit so you can refer to them in moments of weakness.

  1. Make a Date

Pick a date that you feel you will be relaxed and focused on quitting and then stick to it. Throw out all your cigarettes including any emergency supplies as quitting outright is more effective than cutting down gradually.

  1. Talk to Your Support Team

Friends and family can offer wonderful encouragement when trying to quit. Talk to your Haven Pharmacist for advice in our private consultation room or contact the National Smokers’ Quitline on 1850 201 203.

  1. Avoid Your Triggers and Temptations

Know your trigger situations and prepare in advance. Many of our customers find it difficult to avoid a cigarette when drinking alcohol. Try to remove this trigger in the first couple of weeks/months after quitting.

  1. Learn how to cope with cravings

Cravings can occur frequently in the first week of quitting. Remember cravings intensify over 3 to 5 minutes then subside. Practice the Four D’s:

Delay acting on the urge to smoke,

Deep breathe,

Drink some water

Do something else.

  1. Make positive lifestyle choices

Increase your level of exercise as this helps improve mood and manages your weight. Many quitters experience a spike in appetite after giving up initially, this is your body and mind adjusting to a habit and it will level out. Avoid snacking on sweets, choose healthy snacks like fruit and nuts instead.

  1. Stay positive

In moments of weakness remember why you are quitting and believe in the strength of your will power. Look back at the list of reasons you put together when you decided to quit. This will shift your focus back to the long term goal.

  1. Reward yourself

Cigarettes are expensive! Get a money box, work out how much money you were spending each week on cigarettes and put it away. Buy yourself something as a treat instead.


The important thing is, be kind to yourself. Don’t see quitting as a punishment, see it as a liberation and a step on the road to a happy and healthier life.


Cystitis and UTI’s

Cystitis is a common lower urinary tract infection (UTI). It is inflammation of the bladder or urethra and is more common in women than men. It is usually mild and resolves within 5 to 7 days without treatment with antibiotics. Cystitis can be extremely painful and uncomfortable, therefore our pharmacists would highly recommend that actions are taken to address the infection as soon as it presents itself.


There are a range of over the counter remedies available from your Haven pharmacy to help treat cystitis. Please speak to one of our trained advisers or ask your Haven pharmacist for advice on which treatment is best suited to your needs. Some of our pharmacies can carry out a urinary test which could save you time and money at your GP. Contact your local Haven for more details.


What are the Causes of Cystitis?

The most common cause of cystitis is bacterial infection. If bacteria reach the bladder, they multiply and irritate the bladder causing the symptoms of cystitis. A bacterial infection can be caused by not emptying the bladder completely. This is particularly common during pregnancy.

Less commonly, cystitis may occur as a reaction to certain drugs, radiation therapy or potential irritants, such as feminine hygiene spray, spermicidal jellies or long-term use of a catheter.


What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Pain, burning or stinging sensation on urination

  • A strong and persistent urge to urinate
  • Dark, cloudy, strong smelling urine
  • Pain low down in your tummy
  • Feeling a little unwell


These symptoms can be easily confused with other conditions so if it is the first time you are experiencing them, it may be advisable to consult with your doctor to confirm the diagnosis.

Seek advice from your Haven pharmacist in the following situations:

  • You are unsure if you have cystitis or not
  • Blood in the urine
  • Severe symptoms such as pain in your side
  • Fever
  • No improvement within a few days
  • Frequently recurring cystitis
  • You are a man or a pregnant woman with symptoms of cystitis


cystitis drink lots of water

The symptoms of mild cystitis usually clear up within a week without treatment. Drinking lots of water can help you to flush the infection out of your system.


Manage the Condition:

  • Take over the counter pain medication to ease the discomfort (ask your Haven Pharmacist first)
  • Drink plenty of water; 6 to 8 glasses per day might help.
  • Use a hot water bottle to ease pain and help inflammation.
  • Do not have sexual intercourse until cystitis has cleared up as this can make symptoms worse.


Preventing Cystitis:

  • Do not use perfumed soap, gels or talcum powder around your intimate area.
  • Have a shower rather than a bath.
  • Go to the toilet as soon as you need to urinate and ensure your bladder is completely emptied.
  • Always wipe your bottom from front to back after going to the toilet.
  • Stay well hydrated as drinking plenty of fluids will help to stop bacteria multiplying in the bladder.

Does My Child Have Head Lice?

Most people will experience trying to tackle head lice. In our Haven pharmacies, we often meet parents who have taken every precaution available to them and are stunned when their child still manages to catch head lice. We also know that sometimes, upon receiving a letter from school, you might start to convince yourself that your child has head lice when this might not necessarily be the case. Hopefully this blog will enable you to spot a louse, but if in doubt, we would encourage you to drop into your local Haven to speak to an expert who can advise you on the best course of action.

What are Head Lice?

Head lice are small blood sucking insects that live on the human scalp. They are one of the most common childhood conditions worldwide. Head lice are tiny wingless insects that are grey-brown in colour. They are the size of a pinhead when they hatch and 3mm long (the size of a sesame seed) when fully grown.

Although children are most commonly affected, anyone with hair can get head lice.

What Causes Head Lice?

They are passed by head to head contact. They cannot jump or fly from one head to another, so it is this close contact that spreads them from one person to another. They prefer the warmest parts of the head so are usually found behind the ears or in the nape of the neck. Head lice only affect humans and cannot be passed on to animals or be caught from them.

What are the Signs and Symptoms

The usual symptoms of head lice are persistent itching of the scalp, finding empty white or opaque eggshells in the hair or on the shoulders. Itching is not caused by the lice biting the scalp but by an allergy to the lice so may not always be present.

Some people are not allergic to head lice, so they may not notice that they have a head lice infestation. Even if someone with head lice is allergic to them, itching can take up to three months to develop.

In some cases of head lice, a rash may appear on the back of the neck. This is caused by a reaction to louse droppings.

Detecting Head Lice

In order to confirm an active infestation, a louse must be found through a reliable method, such as using a fine tooth comb otherwise known as wet combing. No treatment should be used unless a louse is found.

Treating Head Lice

There are many treatments for treating head lice and help reduce their reoccurance:

  • Wet comb children’s hair regularly to prevent an infestation of head lice
  • If head lice are found, inform those who they have been in close contact with, to check if they are present in their children.
  • Head lice can be found in all types of hair, clean or dirty, long or short, so children should be reassured it’s not a ‘dirty’ problem
  • Head lice don’t live on pets or other animals, so they can’t be caught from a family pet
  • Resistance to head lice treatments can occur, so only treat those who have head lice. Head lice treatment should never be used unless a live louse is found.
  • Conduct regular weekly checks for head lice to make sure that you can treat an infestation as soon as possible
  • Medicated lotions and sprays are not effective in preventing head lice infestations. They should only be used if a live louse has been found on your or your child’s head.


There are a range of very effective over the counter remedies available from your Haven pharmacy to help treat head lice. Please speak to one of our trained advisers or ask your Haven pharmacist if you would like advice on which treatment is best suited to your needs.




Constipation is a common complaint. It occurs when bowel motions become harder or drier than normal and are difficult to pass or when you are having fewer bowel movements than your regular pattern.

Bowel habit is very much an individual pattern and there is a large amount of variance. For some people, a daily bowel movement is normal for others it may be every couple of days. Bowel habit is dependent on many factors including, diet, exercise, age and gender.

Haven pharmacists have put together some valuable information for you about the symptoms of constipation, how to treat it and when it is advisable to speak to your pharmacist or GP. Your local Haven pharmacist is always on hand to discuss any health concern you may have, drop in any time.

What Are the Symptoms of Constipation?

If you answer ‘yes’ to the following questions you may be constipated:

  • Do you often have fewer than three bowel movements in a week?
  • Are your stools often hard and dry, or small and hard?
  • Are you experiencing pain when passing stools?
  • Do you experience blood in your stools?

Symptoms of constipation include:

  • Straining with possible pain and difficulty passing
  • Stomach discomfort and bloating
  • Hard stools – specks of bright blood
  • Children may be irritable and have a decreased appetite
  • Less frequent bowel movements than your usual

With recurring constipation, the regular straining may cause people to develop haemorrhoids (piles).

What Causes Constipation?

Lack of fibre

  • Fibre is necessary to maintain a healthy bowel habit. The fibre helps lubricate the bowel by absorbing water and keeping the stool soft and easy to pass. Eating refined foods or processed foods can also lead to a low fibre diet and result in constipation

Lack of fluids

  • If you are dehydrated you will find it more difficult to pass stools as they are drier and harder. Babies are also at risk of constipation when they transfer to a solid diet or if they receive poorly prepared formula.

Lack of exercise

  • Immobility is a major cause of constipation (especially in the elderly). Sedentary lifestyles or changes in mobility due to illness or injury can result in a change in bowel habit. Even sitting for long periods of time such as flying long haul flights can result in constipation.


  • Medicine-induced constipation can be caused by the following: antidepressants, anti-Parkinson’s drugs, antipsychotics antihypertensive’s, pain killers (codeine), iron, epilepsy medicines, diuretics and antacids containing aluminium and calcium.


  • Hormonal changes in pregnancy can cause constipation. This is especially common in the third trimester.

Emotional distress

  • Worry, stress and depression can often cause constipation. For many people their digestive system is heavily influenced by their emotional states and in situations of high anxiety gut motility can be significantly altered.


  • Some medical conditions such as depression, bowel cancers, haemorrhoids (piles), diabetes and hypothyroidism can cause constipation.

Potty training

  • Children can become constipated during potty training due to anxiety and stress. In this time of change it is important to be supportive to your child and not put too much pressure on them to pass a bowel movement

How Can You Prevent Constipation?

Increase your fibre intake

  • The recommended intake of fibre is 30g per day. This can be found in whole grain cereals, breads, pasta and brown rice. Nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables are also a dietary necessity for a healthy bowel habit.

Increase your fluid intake

  • The recommended daily fluid intake is 1.5 litre or 6-8 glasses of water. Increase the water intake of breast fed and bottle fed babies for a short time until the constipation is gone

Increase your exercise

  • Regular exercise is important for a healthy body and a healthy digestive system. For the elderly or unwell this may be gentle exercise such as regular walking.

Don’t delay your bowel movements

  • By responding to “the call of nature” and trying to go to the toilet around the same time every day you can try to regulate your bowel motions – but it’s important to avoid straining.

Avoid caffeine – why?

  • Coffee can actually make stools harder to pass because it is a diuretic, so it draws liquid out of stools. If you are constipated, avoid coffee and other diuretics such as alcohol and caffeinated tea and cola.

What is the Treatment for Constipation?


Laxatives can be habit forming if taken regularly. Therefore, they should only be taken for short-term relief of constipation. Ask your Haven Pharmacist for advice on what is best for you. Laxatives should not be used for weight loss purposes and abuse can result in serious medical problems.

When Should You See a Doctor About Your Constipation?

  • If you see blood in stool – tarry, dark red or black
  • If you have constipation for seven days or longer – for no obvious cause
  • If your constipation coincides with weight and appetite loss
  • If you have pain on passing causing you to suppress reflex
  • If you are aged over 40 years old with sudden change in bowel habits -with no obvious cause
  • If you suspect depression


Everything You Need to Know About Cold Sores

Many of us will never experience a cold sore, but for those of us who develop them regularly, trust us – you are not missing out! The good news is, our Haven pharmacists have put together all of the information you need about cold sores, where they come from, how they spread and how to treat them. If you are concerned over the size of your cold sore, or the length of time it has been present for, call into any Haven Pharmacy where our expert staff will be happy to offer you advice and guidance.

What are Cold Sores?

Cold sores are mostly a benign viral infection that cause sores to form around the nose and mouth. Generally, the virus lays dormant in the body. However, in times of stress or illness the virus may be triggered and red blisters which can develop into weeping sores may appear.

What Causes Cold Sores?

The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) causes cold sores. HSV-1 is very common. When exposed to the virus for the first time most people will become infected however only 10% will develop cold sores. The sores appear 2-20 days after initial infection and last for about 10-14 days.

How are Cold Sores Spread?

Most people are infected by the virus as infants. It is spread by close contact, kissing or sharing cups, cutlery, face cloths or towels with friends and family members.

People with the virus may spread the sores from their mouths to their eyes by touching their mouth and then touching their eyes. It is important to contact your doctor immediately if your eye becomes red and sore. The virus may also spread to the sex organs or any part of the body where there is broken skin.

Who is at Risk?

Usually, cold sores are only a minor nuisance, however babies and people with skin conditions such as eczema may become quite ill with the herpes virus.

What are the Symptoms of Cold Sores?

  1. First you will feel a tingling, burning, itchy sensation where the sore is about to appear. This is the sign to start treatment.
  2. Then a red and swollen patch will appear which will blister into a cold sore over a 24-hour period. Sores can, at this point, be painful, and sometimes make talking and eating difficult. At this point the treatment will reduce healing time.
  3. Without treatment, the sores become painful and begin to weep and crack.
  4. In roughly a week the sores begin to crust and scab over. The scab will fall off soon without scarring.
  5. The cold sore should heal completely within 10 to 14 days since it first began. However, the virus can be spread from the time of tingling until the crust has dried into a scab.


What is the Treatment for Cold Sores?

  • Most cold sores heal by themselves in 10-14 days.
  • Cold sore treatments, available over the counter from your local Haven Pharmacy, will include anti-viral medications, aesthetics, antiseptics or natural herbal remedies. These remedies will encourage healing, relieve pain or if caught in time help to prevent the cold sore from developing.
  • Talk to the pharmacist to find the most appropriate treatment for you. It is important to tell the pharmacist if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
  • The best time to treat a cold sore is before it happens. This is at the initial phase when the tingling symptoms occur. Applying an anti-viral cream to the affected area will help to prevent the cold sore developing further.
  • Directions for the anti-viral products may differ, however most will require the cream to be applied 5 times a day- roughly every 2 hours.
  • For blisters that have broken out, you can keep the cold sore clean by bathing it with warm water and patting it dry with tissue paper or a cotton bud. Washing hands before applying treatment is very important.
  • Washing hands after using the cold sore cream and avoiding re-using the same finger to get more cream out of the tube can prevent contamination of the medicine.
  • Using a lip moisturising cream can help with dry cracking lips that may result in further infection.


Why Do Cold Sores Keep Coming Back?

After the initial attack, the virus gets into the nerves at the part of the area the cold sore appeared. The virus lies dormant here until the next attack is triggered. Triggers include stress, tiredness, menstruation, pregnancy, strong sunlight or sunburn. A cold sore may also break out if you are feeling run down or have another illness

It’s important to manage your cold sore and understand the triggers. If you are at a stressful period of your life manage your stress by exercising or relaxation techniques, boost your immune system with healthy eating or adding a multivitamin. Also avoid dangerous sun exposure and protect your skin using sunscreens (SPF30+)

How Can You Prevent Cold Sores Spreading to Others?

  • Avoiding transfer of the virus to others means avoiding skin contact . Kissing, touching or picking the cold sore should be avoided especially when it has blistered and is weeping.
  • Use your own towel, eating utensils and don’t allow others drink out of your drinks.
  • Use your own lip balms, wipe lipstick testers and preferably use them on your hand.
  • Don’t touch the cold sore unless necessary for treatment and always wash your hands afterwards.

When Should You See a Doctor About Your Cold Sores?

  • If your cold sore spreads from your lips to other areas of the face, or if cold sores appear on other parts of your body.
  • If your cold sore has lasted longer than three weeks.
  • If you are experiencing a very severe cold sore or repeated attacks of cold sores.