Everything You Need to Know About Cold Sores

Cold Sores are extremely annoying and usually occur at the worst of times!

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…

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.

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.

If you are concerned about the size of your cold sore, or the length of time you’ve had it , call into any Haven Pharmacy where our expert staff will be happy to offer you advice and guidance.


12 Injuries of Christmas

Now that Christmas is in full swing we thought we would share our new Medicare Festive First Aid Guide – although this is a happy time of year there are many accidents that may occur, this handy guide is designed to provide key information in a light and informative manner.

The Guide includes the 12 Injuries of Christmas namely – Cuts & Scrapes / Choking / Head Injuries / Sprains &Strains / Cardiac Arrest / Burns & Scalds / Fainting / Electric Shock / Eye Injury / Fractures & Breaks/ Nosebleeds/ The Recovery Position.

1. Burns & Scalds

Burns and scalds are common injuries which, if only mild, can be easily treated at home. Examples of burns may involve candle lighting or lighting the Christmas Pudding while scalds could involve straining Brussel sprouts or pouring off the turkey fat.

Types of Burns
Superficial Burn (First Degree Burn): This type of burn affects only the outer layer of skin, otherwise known as the epidermis. This is classified as the mildest type of burn but is still tender to touch and may cause swelling.
Partial-thickness Burn (Second Degree Burn): While this type of burn looks and feels very similar to a superficial burn, you will experience blistering of the skin. It is important to remember not to burst these blisters, as their function is to prevent infection.
Full-thickness Burn (Third Degree Burn): A full-thickness burn affects both the epidermis and dermis layers of skin and, as you probably guessed, is the most severe type of burn. A burn like this may look pale, black, charred and waxy and surprisingly will be painless as the nerve endings will have been burnt away. If you experience this type of burn, you must seek urgent medical attention.

Treating a Burn
1. The first thing you must do after suffering a burn is cool it down, by running it under tepid water for a minimum of 20 minutes.
2. You must remove any jewellery, such as watches and rings, before skin tissue begins to swell.
3. Applying Medicare Burn Gel or Burn Gel Dressing and covering the burnt area with a non-fluffy sterile dressing such as Medporex will help to protect it from infection.
4. Treat the casualty for shock.

If a child or infant has suffered a burn, regardless of the severity, they must be treated in hospital. In addition to this, all full-thickness burns, burns that extend around the arm or leg or burns involving the face, genitals, hands or feet should be treated by a medical professional.


2. Fainting

Fainting is typically caused by a lack of oxygenated blood reaching the brain and can be described as a sudden temporary loss of consciousness. There may not be any warning symptoms when you suffer a stroke but some people recall feeling sick and confused, lightheaded, blurred vision and fast, deep breathing.

Before you faint, you are likely to feel weak and unsteady before eventually passing out for a short period of time.

Causes of Fainting
There are several reasons behind fainting, such as:

  • Emotional stress
  • Pain
  • Lack of food
  • Pregnancy
  • Exhaustion
  • Fear
  • Prolonged standing

Treatment for fainting
If someone is feeling faint then you should advise them to lie down on the floor and raise their legs higher than their head. This position will help to improve blood flow back to the brain.

If someone around you has fainted and has not recovered after two minutes, then you should place them in the recovery position and closely monitor their airways and breathing. Once they are in the recovery position, you should call for emergency medical help. Be prepared to resuscitate the patient if they stop breathing.

If you have suffered a fainting episode, there are things that you can do to avoid it happening again, such as avoiding triggers like stress and hot/crowded environments. Spotting the warning signs beforehand, so that you can lie down and increase blood flow to the brain will help to prevent further fainting incidents.


3. Cuts and Grazes

Cuts and grazes are common injuries that can usually be treated at home. A wound is an injury to the skin and can be classified depending on what causes the injury. It is easy to ignore cuts and grazes, as they do not cause much harm, but it is important to realise that they carry the risk of infection.

A graze, also known as an abrasion, is a superficial wound that involves the removal of the top layer of the skin. Grazes are often caused by friction, meaning that there is a higher risk of foreign objects entering the wound and causing infection.

A cut is typically caused by a sharp edge which can result in increased blood loss and damage to underlying soft tissues.
These injuries can occur at Christmas due to tasks such as cutting/ shaping the Christmas Tree, prepping vegetables for Christmas dinner or paper cuts wrapping those presents!

How to treat cuts & grazes
Graze: Firstly, you must remember to clean the wound to avoid any potential infection with Medicare Effigerm First Aid Spray to remove any foreign objects. Pat the wound dry with a sterile swab and cover with a Medicare dressing or a plaster.

Cut: Again, cleaning the wound with Medicare Effigerm First Aid Spray should be a priority to eradicate any foreign objects. Warm water tends to be more comfortable as this cleans the cut. Ensure that the wound is dry and cover it with a Medicare dressing or plaster.


4. Eye Injury

Many of us will be celebrating the holiday with a little bubbly. Make sure your celebrations do not turn disastrous for your eye health by learning how to properly open a champagne bottle.

Every year, improper cork-removal techniques cause serious and potentially blinding eye injuries. A champagne cork can fly up to 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle – fast enough to shatter glass. At such speeds, you have no time to react and protect your eye. (Source: GetEyeSmart.org)

How to treat an eye injury
Don’t fall victim to permanent eye damage by following some simple guidelines below:

  1. Before you open the bottle, chill it for a few hours. Experts say the ideal temperature is between 39 and 48 Fahrenheit degrees. Cold champagne is less likely to spurt out of the bottle.
  2. Take the bottle out of the fridge carefully, do not jostle or shake the bottle. Remove the plastic foil and wire cage that holds the cork in place.
  3. Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle, making sure it’s pointing away from you and anyone else. It helps to hold a napkin over the top of the cork to get a good grip and keep everything in place.
  4. Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. As the bottle turns, the cork will slowly ease out. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
  5. Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.

Should you ever experience an eye injury from a champagne cork, seek immediate medical attention from a doctor.


5. Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are usually not serious and can be simply treated at home. They are typically caused when the inside of your nose is damaged blowing your nose too hard or even due to changes in temperature.

There are certain instances where a nosebleed will need professional medical attention, which is when they occur from deeper inside the nose. Examples of this include when the nose has been broken when it is caused by high blood pressure or by taking a specific type of medication or by conditions that affect the blood vessels or how the blood clots.

There are certain people who are more prone to experiencing nosebleeds:

  • Children (they usually grow out of them by the age of 11)
  • Elderly people
  • Pregnant women

How to treat a nosebleed

  1. Make sure that you are sitting or standing upright and not lying down.
  2. Pinch your nose just above the nostrils for around 10-15 minutes.
  3. Lean forward and breathe through your mouth.
  4. Have a cloth or bowl ready for any drips or dribbles of blood.
  5. Place a Medicare Instant ice pack at the top of your nose to reduce any swelling that may have been caused.
  6. After 10-15 minutes, allow the casualty to stop pinching their nose.

If the bleeding has stopped after the 10 minutes, you should advise the casualty to rest and avoid blowing their nose for several hours, as this may disturb any blood clots that have formed and is likely to trigger another nosebleed.
However, if the bleeding has not stopped, then the patient must pinch the soft part of their nose for a further 10 minutes. If the nosebleed continues after 30 minutes, the casualty must be taken to the hospital to receive medical attention.


6. Choking

Choking can be a common injury at Christmas. Most incidents occur around eating large amount of food while other choking incidents that may occur involve babies/ toddlers picking up random items from under the Christmas tree
Choking can be classified as mild or severe and is when an object has become partially or completely stuck in the throat. This causes the muscles in the throat to spasm, making breathing difficult or impossible.

It is vital to keep airways (nose, mouth, throat or lungs) open so that air can travel through to our lungs and transfer oxygen into our blood. A blockage to the airway is a life-threatening emergency that should be immediately treated.

How to treat a choking adult/child

  1. Encourage the casualty to bend forward from the waist and support them with one hand.
  2. With the other hand, deliver up to 5 sharp back blows with the heel of your hand. This should be done between the choking victim’s shoulder blades.
  3. If the obstruction isn’t cleared after the back blows have been completed, you must stand behind the casualty and place both of your arms around them. Encourage them to lean forward, as before, and then provide them with 5 abdominal thrusts. This can be done by placing one fist between the belly button and the bottom of the breastbone and the other fist on top of that. Pull the fists sharply inwards and upwards to deliver an abdominal thrust. This should be carried out 5 times too.
  4. Check the casualty’s mouth for obstructions and repeat 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts up to 3 times. If the airway is still not cleared, call for an ambulance and continue treating the patient until help arrives.
  5. If they become unresponsive, then you must prepare to resuscitate.

How to treat a choking infant

  1. For patients under 1, treatment for choking must be carried out differently to support the baby’s head.
  2. Lay the infant down along your forearm, so that their head is lower than their chest.
  3. Deliver 5 back blows with the heel of one hand between the infant’s shoulder blades. Check their mouth for obstructions between each back blow.
  4. If the airway is still blocked, then you must turn the infant onto their back and place two fingers on the breastbone, thrusting sharply inwards and upwards. Repeat this movement up to 5 times, again checking for obstructions after each thrust.
  5. If the blockage has not cleared, repeat steps 2 and 3 up to 3 more times.
  6. Call for an ambulance if the blockage is still there and be prepared to perform CPR if the infant becomes unresponsive


7. Sprains & Strains

A sprain is a muscle, ligament or tendon that has been twisted or torn, while a strain is a muscle that has been overstretched and partially torn. Both injuries can cause mild or severe pain but can usually be treated at home.

What causes a sprain or strain?
Sprains are most commonly acquired through sports or exercising, primarily when your muscles are tired or you have failed to warm up beforehand. The muscles will become overstretched, meaning that any sudden movements can lead to a tear.
Simply changing direction too quickly or falling in an awkward position can lead to a sprain or strain, other festive injuries could include icy/slippery footpaths, wet kitchen floors and those dreaded high heels shoes!

Treating a sprain
The main indicators that you have sustained a sprain or strain is tenderness or weakness of the injured area, along with potential swelling or bruising.
Remembering the RICE acronym is essential when you experience a sprain or strain as this will help you to make a full recovery and avoid any further damage.

Rest – Stop any exercise that you are doing and refrain from putting any weight on the injured area, advisably for 24-48 hours.
Ice – Apply a Medicare Instant Ice Pack to the injury for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours which will assist in reducing the pain and swelling.
Compression – Wrap a Mediform bandage around the sprain or strain to give extra support.
Elevate – Keep the injury raised above the level of your heart, to decrease pain and throbbing. You can do this by propping the injured area on a pillow.

After 2 weeks, most sprains will start to feel better. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for up to 8 weeks after your sprain injury. If your strain or sprain has not healed within this timescale, then you may be recommended for physiotherapy to help your injury return to its normal state.


8. Fractures & Breaks

The icy weather around the festive period can lend itself to may slips and falls that can lead to painful fractures or worse even breaks.

Depending on the injury, we may not know straight away that it’s broken. You don’t need us to tell you that if there’s a bone coming through the skin, it’s pretty obvious but it may not be quite that clear.

How to treat a fracture/break

It may start to swell and become bruised which looks similar to a sprain. Usually we can tell due to how the injury happened. Impact on an area may be more likely to be a break whereas a sudden, unusual movement i.e. twisting is more likely to be a sprain.

Treatment is simple. Keep the injured area still and supported comfortably and take a trip to A&E. Minimal movement is important regardless of where on the body this is. However, a broken leg may require an ambulance whereas a broken wrist may not.


9. Head Injuries

Head injuries can occur in many instances over the holiday period such as slipping on a wet kitchen floor or a child’s toy.

How to treat a head injury

If there’s a bump on the head, the most effective way to treat it is with a cold compress or an ice pack to help reduce the swelling. However this isn’t the most vital part of the first aid.

With head injuries, monitoring the casualty is paramount. We’re looking for certain signs and symptoms that show us the injury may be getting worse. Are they particularly drowsy? Are they acting out of sorts, maybe not quite themselves? Are they throwing up and complaining of a headache that won’t shift?

If any if these symptoms are present, they need to get them to a hospital. If they’re deteriorating quickly, call 999. Otherwise you can take them to A&E if you’re worried at any point – it is better to go and find out


10. Electric Shock

Every year, 1,000 people die because of electrical accidents. Festive accidents may include plugging in a faulty string of Christmas lights which can cause serious burns.

Young children often suffer burns in their mouths from chewing on an electrical cord or playing with an outlet. Knowing what to do in the event of such an accident can limit the extent of the burn and possibly save a life.

Don’t touch anything until you’ve assessed the situation. If the victim is still in contact with the electrical source, touching him or her could expose you to life-threatening danger. If possible, turn off the source of electricity. Unplug the appliance or turn off the building’s main power. Don’t depend on the appliance’s switch, which could be faulty.

If you are unable to turn off the electricity, you need to quickly and carefully separate the victim from the source of the current. Stand on a pile of clothes or newspapers, a rubber mat, a book, or other insulating material. Using a broomstick, plastic mop handle, wooden chair, rope or other nonconducting object, separate the victim from the source of electricity (nonconducting objects can be anything made of cardboard, plastic, or wood; a wooden baseball bat or a branch will serve the purpose.) Be careful to keep these materials dry. Do NOT touch the victim with your hands or with anything that is wet or made of metal.

How to perform first aid

Assess the victim’s condition and check for breathing. If breathing has stopped, call 999 and begin CPR immediately. If the person is breathing but unconscious, check for burns. These may be present at both the entry and exit sites of the electric current, so check the entire body. Cover burns with sterile gauze bandages, if available, or a clean cloth. Don’t put heavy blankets or towels on the burns because their weight could cause pain. Treat minor burns as you would any kind of burn. If the wound is serious, however, don’t try to cool the burn or apply ointment or oil to it.

A person with an electrical burn should get immediate medical attention even if the skin doesn’t seem injured or if the wound does not appear deep. Electrical burns often cause serious injury inside the body that may not be apparent on the skin. If you have any doubts, call 999, even if the victim is conscious and says she feels okay. Electrical burns are often deeper and more serious than they appear.

While you’re waiting for help, check to see if the victim is faint or shows signs of shock, including pale or clammy skin and a rapid pulse. If this is the case, elevate their legs slightly, cover them with a light blanket and wait for help.


11. The Recovery Position

Although not an injury The Recovery Position is something that everyone should be aware of. This procedure should be used to treat an unresponsive victim who is still breathing.

This position will help to manage the casualty’s airway by preventing their tongue from falling to the back of their throat. It also protects the airway from vomit which eliminates the risk of choking and causing further harm to the patient.

Airways consist of your nose, mouth, throat and lungs. It is vital that these are kept open to enable the passage of air to your lungs, so that oxygen gets transferred into your blood.

How to perform the Recovery Position

  1. Kneel down next to the casualty, roughly level with their chest.
  2. Place the arm that is nearest to you at a right angle with their hand upwards, towards their head.
  3. Tuck their other hand under the side of their head.
  4. Bend their knee farthest from you to a right angle.
  5. Carefully roll the victim onto their side by pulling their bent knee.
  6. The victim’s top arm should be supporting their head and their bottom arm will stop them from rolling too far.
  7. To open their airway, tilt their head back and lift their chin.

Recovery Position & Spinal Injuries

If you suspect that the victim has suffered a spinal injury, they should NOT be moved, unless they are in imminent danger.

Moving a casualty with a spinal injury should always remain a last resort. However, if necessary, the recovery position can be adjusted to avoid further damage to the spine.

This position is known as the ‘log roll,’ which is where the casualty’s limbs are straightened and they are moved in one slow, steady movement. The head, chest, hips and legs should be supported at all times, to keep the spine straight.


12. CPR

When someone falls victim to a sudden cardiac arrest, blood stops circulating around their body to deliver oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. Therefore, performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in this instance is crucial to keep oxygen flowing and increase their chance of survival.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an electrical malfunction of the heart and can sadly affect people of all ages. Without CPR in a cardiac arrest emergency, a victim’s chance of survival is very slim. For every minute that passes in the event of an SCA, survival rates decrease by 10%, which is why early intervention is so important.

How to perform CPR

Before you perform CPR, you must check the scene of the emergency, to ensure that it is safe. Firstly, tap the casualty’s shoulder and ask ‘Are you OK?’ in both ears.

If you are alone, make sure that you remember to call 999 and grab the nearest available defibrillator. However, if someone else is present, you should get them to do this for you and you concentrate on the casualty.

Next, you should open the airway of the casualty by lying them on their back and tilting their head back to lift the chin.

If there is no indication of breathing after 10 seconds, you should immediately begin CPR.

  1. The rate of CPR is 30 chest compressions to 2 rescue breaths.
  2. Place your hands, one on top of the other, in the middle of the chest and use your weight to help you administer hard compressions that are at least 2 inches deep and at a rate of 100 compressions per minute.
  3. For rescue breaths, tilt the person’s head back slightly and lift the chin, pinch the nose and place your mouth over theirs to make a complete seal. Blow into their mouth to make the chest rise. Deliver two rescue breaths and continue with compressions. (If you are untrained in rescue breaths, you can still help the victim by using hands-only CPR).
  4. Continue giving cycles of thirty chest compressions and two rescue breaths until help arrives or the casualty begins to regain responsiveness and starts to breathe normally.

CPR is a skill that will equip you with the knowledge to save a life.

Have you had your Flu Vaccine yet?

The seasonal flu vaccine is available from October 2019 until the end of April 2020

What is the Flu?

Seasonal flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus. The virus infects your lungs and upper airways, causing a sudden high temperature and general aches and pains, headache, weakness and exhaustion. Symptoms can last for up to one week. You may need to stay in bed until your symptoms get better. Flu affects people of all ages. In some people flu can cause serious complications such as pneumonia.

How flu is spread?

If you are carrying the virus, you can spread it by coughing or sneezing. This can happen from 1-2 days before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after symptoms develop. Flu can survive on worktops and objects, especially in low temperatures and low humidity. You can get flu by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours and a soft surface for around 20 minutes.

How Serious is Flu?

The Flu virus is an unpredictable virus. If you are healthy you will usually recover in 7 days. But Flu can be severe and can cause serious illness and death. Complications of flu include bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and rarely acute encephalopathy (swelling of the brain). Serious complications of flu are more likely if you have a chronic medical condition or if you are aged 65 years or older. Pregnant women are also at increased risk of flu complications. In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people, mainly older people, die from flu each winter. Every year, around the world, flu causes between 3 and 5 million cases of severe disease and up to 646, 000 deaths.

How can I care for someone with flu at home?

If you are at home with flu or taking care of someone at home, follow these tips to help stop the flu spreading to others:

  • If you have the flu stay in one room with the door closed and, if possible, open a window for fresh air
  • Family members should limit time spent with someone with flu and avoid sharing dishes, books, toys, etc
  • Avoid face-to-face contact with someone who has the flu
  • Discourage visits from people not living in the house
  • If you have flu, cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues when sneezing or coughing. If tissues are not available, coughing or sneezing into your arm or sleeve (not hand) is recommended
  • Used tissues should be put into a bin and the bin sealed in the room and immediately taken outside for collection
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, especially after coughing and sneezing
  • Everyone in the house should frequently clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after every contact with someone with flu or their room or bathroom
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth with your hands as this helps spreads the flu virus
  • Surfaces and items inside the house should be cleaned regularly with bleach-based household cleaners

The Flu Vaccine

This year, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the 4 strains of flu virus recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the strains most likely to be circulating this season. The flu viruses that are circulating change every year. This is why you need to get a new vaccine each year. You should get your flu vaccination from early October to be protected for flu season. People 10 years and over should get the vaccine from their GP or Pharmacist or Occupational Health Department. Younger children should get the vaccine from their GP. The flu vaccine is free if you are in an at-risk group but you may be charged a consultation fee, unless you have a medical card or a GP visit card. The flu vaccine doesn’t contain any live viruses – it cannot give you the flu.

How it works

The flu vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies to fight influenza virus. If you have been vaccinated and you come into contact with the virus, these antibodies will attack it and stop you from getting sick. The flu vaccine starts to work within two weeks.

At-risk groups

The HSE are strongly urging people in at-risk groups to get the flu vaccine. It is strongly recommended the vaccine if you:

  • are 65 years of age and over
  • are pregnant
  • are a child or adult with a long-term health condition
  • work in healthcare
  • are a carer or household contact of anyone at increased medical risk of flu
  • live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl

You should not get the flu vaccine if you have had a severe allergic (anaphylaxis) reaction to a previous dose or any part of the vaccine. Don’t get the flu vaccine if you are taking medicines called combination checkpoint inhibitors (e.g. ipilimumab plus nivolumab). Vaccination should be re-scheduled if you have an acute illness with a temperature greater than 38°C.

Speak to your local Haven Pharmacist about the Flu Vaccine. You can make an appointment in selected Haven Pharmacy stores nationwide.

For more information about Flu and it’s symptoms check out the HSE website



Probiotics – a closer look at gut health

What is a Probiotic?
The word probiotic is a compound of two Greek words: “pro” to signify promotion of, and “biotic” – life. Probiotics are bacteria that line digestive tract and they are also known as friendly bacteria.

The difference between pathogenic bacteria or candida, and probiotics, is that the probiotic organisms have a symbiotic relationship with our bodies and both together they form a mutual defence treaty

  • The first and most overlooked reason that our digestive tract is critical to our health is because 80 percent of our entire immune system is located in the digestive tract!
  • In addition to the impact on our immune system, our digestive system is the second largest part of our neurological system.
  • It is called our enteric nervous system and is located in our gut. This is why it is called our second brain! 
  • Many people with health issues such as thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, autism, and many other conditions do not realize that these illnesses originate in the gut.

The strongest evidence to date finds that probiotic benefits include: boosting immune system, prevent and treat urinary tract infections, improve digestive function, heal inflammatory bowel conditions like IBS, manage and prevent eczema in children, fight foodborne illnesses, treat colitis and Crohn’s disease, combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, treat liver disease, battle cancer, manage autism, lower cholesterol and the list is endless!

What affects our gut flora?
➢ Prescription Antibiotics

➢ Sugar

➢ Chlorine (Tap Water!)

➢ GMO Foods (Genetically Modified)

➢ Grains

➢ Emotional Stress

➢ Chemicals and medications

In order to improve gut flora balance, make sure to avoid the probiotic killers. We are exposed to many of these foods, toxins and stressors on a daily basis, and if going to restore digestive health, they must be addressed. If they’re not addressed, gut micro-organisms become imbalanced and system can become a breeding ground for bad bacteria, yeast, viruses, fungi and parasites.

How Probiotics Work?

Gut contains both beneficial and harmful bacteria. Nutrition experts agree that the balance of gut flora should be approximately 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria. When this ratio gets out of balance, the condition is known as dysbiosis, which means there is an imbalance of too much of a certain type of fungus, yeast or bacteria that is affecting the body in a negative way.










Bad bacteria can damage the intestines causing irritation and reduced nutritional absorption


Consuming certain types of probiotic foods and supplements can help bring these rations back into balance.


By Agne Kazlauskiene

Childhood illnesses – knowing the symptoms

It’s easy to forget that children are not little adults. Children have not yet developed their body’s natural defences and therefore are far more prone to infections from bacteria and viruses than adults. As a result, children often get sick. Most of the time there is no need to worry, however a child that is unwell must be watched carefully as they can get worse very quickly.

As a parent, it is important to be diligent and understand the warning signs because unlike adults, children don’t understand they are poorly. Our Haven pharmacists have put together some useful information about how to recognise when your child is sick and when to see a doctor. Remember, Haven pharmacies are looking after families across Ireland on a daily basis. At Haven, we pride ourselves on the trust and care we invest in the people in our local communities and are here to listen and assist if you ever have any concerns about your family members.

What are the Symptoms of a Sick Child?

Healthy children are usually active and alert whilst a sick child will be more withdrawn than normal. They can be cranky, sleepy, and more in demand of your attention and affection than normal. They often lose their appetite.

General Symptoms

  • General symptoms of a sick child are fever, pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, cough, headache and rash. For specific symptoms of common illness in children have a look at our easy reference table below.

Raised Temperature

  • When a child is running a fever, they will have a raised temperature (above 37°C). This is an indication your child is fighting an infection, either viral or bacterial. Monitor any changes by taking a regular temperature reading with the thermometer.


  • Children’s pain can be from sore ears, teething, headache or injury. Sore throats, runny noses, coughs and headache may also cause distress so it can be helpful to talk to your local Haven Pharmacist about your child’s symptoms.

Vomiting and Diarrhoea

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea are more serious for a child than an adult because they are at higher risk of dehydration due to losing fluids from their bodies. A Haven Pharmacist can help you treat and manage these symptoms or advise referral if necessary.

When Should You See Your GP About Your Sick Child?

  • If your child still has pain or a fever (39°C or more) after 24 hours
  • Regular vomiting for over 24 hours
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea together
  • More than two very loose, smelly bowel motions in a day
  • Refuses two or more regular daily meals/feeds
  • Rubbing or tugging ear, crying or grizzling, or has runny discharge coming from the ear
  • Ongoing cough or wheeze, breathing more quickly than normal or grunting
  • Difficulty waking the child
  • Seizure or fit
  • Unusually floppy or pale
  • Develops a rash or stiff neck

Common illnesses in children that require a Doctor:

For further advice and information, please call in to your local Haven Pharmacy

We are here for you every little step of the way!

Baby Care – Looking After Your Little Ones


Ever feel like there are just so many things to look out for with a new baby that you don’t know where to start? It can be really overwhelming. You’re doing a great job, so don’t worry and be kind to yourself. Here, our expert pharmacists list out just some of the most common queries that they receive from parents in our pharmacies…


Blocked Nose

Saline nasal drops will help clear a blocked nose. If you are finding these difficult to apply – try some capsules containing light aromatic oils and sprinkle on the bed sheets. (Not suitable for children under three months)


Symptoms of Colic include

  1. Excessive Crying
  2. High Pitched Piercing Sound
  3. Clenched Fists
  4. Excessive Gas
  5. Knees Drawn Up to Chest
  6. Red Face
  7. Grimacing/Frowning
  8. Difficult to Comfort

Colic in young babies is not a permanent condition and one they generally grow out of. Colic may be caused by wind or by a temporary reaction to the lactose in milk which can cause bloated stomach or tummy upset.

Talk to your Haven Pharmacist about the products available to help reduce the effects of colic.


Babies should only very rarely be constipated. If your baby is constipated, please contact your Haven pharmacist of GP.

Cradle Cap (Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis)

Cradle cap is a greasy, yellow, flaky condition on the scalp of recently born babies – which can be easily treated. Your Haven Pharmacist will be able to advise you on treatments containing liquid paraffin in addition to a mild shampoo.


Babies and children are immunized to protect them from certain diseases. Please consult your doctor about the vaccination routine for your baby or child.

Nappy Rash

Most babies will suffer from nappy rash at some time. There are many creams or powders that will help to prevent, treat and soothe the condition. It’s important to change the nappy frequently when a baby has nappy rash as the baby’s urine may make the rash worse. In severe cases and when infection is involved, the condition can be distressing and require medical attention. Ask your Haven Pharmacist if in any doubt about the severity of the rash.

Oral Thrush

Oral thrush appears like white patches on the cheeks and tongue. If a baby is being bottle fed or is using a soother, then make sure to rinse the soother or bottle teat with water. Do not place the teat/soother in your mouth and do not let other children use the teat/soother as thrush can spread easily in this way. If you think your baby may have thrush, ask your Haven Pharmacist for help.

Teething and Pain

Paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used to help reduce the pain of teething. Ibuprofen should not be given to children who are asthmatic. It is important to use the correct dosage and not to overdose.

**Please Note: These drugs should not be used routinely. Aspirin should not be given to children under 16.**

Skin Conditions and Rashes

If your baby has an unusual rash or skin condition, make sure to talk to your local Haven pharmacist or your GP.


Worms may be visible in the nappy or in the toilet bowl. Quite often the child will be scratching their bottom and may be grinding their teeth when they are asleep. Talk to your pharmacist about the best advice for worm treatment.

This list is not exhaustive and there are many more conditions that can affect babies. A great information resource for expectant and new parents is MyChild.ie from the HSE.

Always remember to talk to your local Haven Pharmacist or your Family GP if you are concerned your baby or child may have a health problem. If in doubt, get it checked out!

Haven Pharmacy… we’re here for you every little step of the way

Don’t suffer with Mouth Ulcers

What is a mouth ulcer?
Mouth ulcers (or apthous ulcers) are common, with as many as one in two of the population suffering from them, but the cause in many cases is unknown. They may occur on your tongue, on your soft palate, inside your cheeks or lips, and at the base of your gums. They differ from cold sores in that they occur in the soft tissues of your mouth and aren’t contagious. Conversely, cold sores rarely develop in the soft tissues of your mouth and are extremely contagious because they’re caused by the herpes virus.

How do we get mouth ulcers?
The cause of mouth ulcers in many people cannot be explained, but others may have caused by the following:-

1. Trauma or damage
A minor injury may trigger a mouth ulcer for example, over-zealous tooth-brushing, or eating or drinking something that is very hot as well as biting the inside of the mouth.

2. Disease
Normally mouth ulcers occurring as a symptom of a disease are associated with other symptoms.

What are the symptoms of a mouth ulcer?
Mouth ulcers are very painful and are usually round or oval in appearance inside the mouth. Seek advice from your Haven pharmacist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

1. Tingling or burning
This sensation may occur before the development of an ulcer.

2. Painful lesion(s)
Most mouth ulcers occur in crops of one to five with common being on the sides of the tongue and inside the lips and cheeks. They may be up to 5mm in diameter and have a white or yellowish centre with an inflamed, red outer edge.

What increases the risk of mouth ulcers?
1. Trauma
Minor injuries to the mucous membranes occur commonly in people who wear dentures (they may not fit properly) and people who wear braces or other orthodontic devices.

2. Food and Nutrition
A deficiency of vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid or iron may cause mouth ulcers and also lead to other symptoms involving the lips, tongue and oral mucosa. These kinds of deficiences are more likely to occur in people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract which affect absorption of nutrients (e.g. ulcerative colitis). Mouth ulcers may also be caused by allergies to some foods.

3. Age, sex and family history
Mouth ulcers occur more between the ages of ten and forty and it is estimated that in one in three people suffering from mouth ulcers there is a family history of mouth ulcers. Women more commonly suffer from them and they often occur before the start of the menstrual period. Ulcers often occur less or even not at all during pregnancy, which indicates a hormonal involvement.

4. Reduced immune system function
People who are taking drugs which lower the effectiveness of their immune system (for example after transplantation, for the treatment of cancer or for auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or colitis) and people with HIV are more likely to get mouth ulcers. This is because the mouth normally contains a large number of micro-organisms, which provide a healthy environment in the mouth. But if the immune system is not functioning properly, the balance of these micro-organisms can change and this can cause problems, such as the development of mouth ulcers.

5. Blood Disorders
Rarely, mouth ulcers may be associated with disorders of the blood including anaemia and the abnormally low white cell count of leukaemia.

6. Oral Cancer
Oral cancers are more common in smokers. Oral cancer more commonly affects the lips but can affect the tongue.

What are the complications of a mouth ulcer?
These mainly occur when a mouth ulcer that is left untreated is infected by bacteria and this can lead to infection of the whole mouth or teeth.

When should you seek medical advice?
See your doctor if you experience mouth ulcers with any of the following.
-Persistent sores, lasting three weeks or more
-Pain that you can’t control with self-care measures
-Difficulty drinking enough fluids
-High fever with mouth ulcers
-Weight loss
-Involvement of other mucous membranes (e.g. genitalia)

What is the best treatment for a mouth ulcer?
Most ulcers usually heal within seven to ten days. Preparations on sale in Haven Pharmacies for the treatment of mouth ulcers can help to relieve the discomfort and pain and also reduce the risk of a bacterial infection. Many over-the-counter preparations are not suitable for those who are pregnant or for children under two years of age and may not be suitable for other individuals, so it is always important to talk to your local Haven pharmacist when buying preparation for mouth ulcers over-the-counter.

Practical tips to deal with Mouth Ulcers:
• Apply a protective paste to ulcer
• Use a painkilling oral rinse, spray or gel
• Use a soft toothbrush to prevent further damage
• Antimicrobial mouth wash may speed up the healing process and prevent infection.
• Take a Vitamin B supplement. Vitamin B is linked to preventing mouth sores and skin irritation around the mouth.

Prevention is better than cure! 
Because mouth ulcers can recur, you may be able to reduce their frequency by addressing factors that seem to trigger them, so:
– Avoid foods that seem to irritate your mouth. These may include acidic foods, nuts and certain spices
– Don’t chew and talk at the same time, you could cause minor trauma to the delicate lining of your mouth, triggering a mouth ulcer
– Regular brushing of teeth after meals and using floss once a day can keep your mouth clean and free of foods that might trigger an ulcer
– Using a soft brush may help you avoid irritation of mouth tissues

Haven Health Tip! Use ice to help relieve the pain of a mouth ulcer and rinse your mouth with salt water to help the ulcers heal.

Find out more about mouth ulcers from your local Haven Pharmacy where you will gain expert advice on what treatment suits you and your family’s healthcare needs.

Find your local Haven Pharmacy here


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



Worried about Age-related Macular Degeneration?

Are you worried about Age-related Macular Degeneration? 👀

Over 7,000 new cases of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) are diagnosed every year in Ireland, often at a stage when damage has already been caused to vision. AMD is a disease that causes the gradual loss of sight due to blurring or loss of central vision. This is often as a result of a deterioration of the macula, a yellow pigmented structure at the back of the eye that is responsible for our detailed colour vision.

Smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, a diet high in unsaturated fats and simple carbohydrates and lack of exercise all increase the risk of AMD, but you can reduce your risk by taking Lutein Omega 3 as part of your daily routine.

Lutein Omega 3 is a nutritional supplement supporting healthy eyesight, it includes Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Vitamins C and E, Copper, Zinc, combined with fish oil rich in DHA1. These agents are recommended to reduce the risk or slow the progression of AMD which is the leading cause of sight loss for those aged over 50 in Ireland.

Available in Haven Pharmacy Stores Nationwide 

Are you worried about Meningitis?

The HSE have advised the public to be vigilant regarding meningococcal meningitis/septicaemia as there has been a noted increase in meningococcal disease in the country in the last two weeks.

Meningitis is a serious illness involving inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. There are two types of meningitis; bacterial and viral. Parents are advised to check their children have been vaccinated against meningococcal disease as it poses a serious risk to children and adolescents.

A vaccine that protects against meningococcal C disease (MenC vaccine) is given at 6 months and at 13 months and meningococcal B vaccine (MenB vaccine) is given at 2, 4, and 12 months of age. In addition adolescents are routinely offered the MenC vaccine in the first year of secondary school. Older teenagers and young adults up to the age of 23 years who never received a MenC vaccine are recommended to get the vaccine. Other vaccines that protect against other forms of meningitis and septicaemia are included in the routine child vaccination programme (Hib vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine (PCV).

All children should get their vaccines in accordance with the national schedule. Children who have missed vaccines can obtain these vaccines from their GPs.

The illness occurs most frequently in young children and adolescents, usually as isolated cases. Bacterial meningitis or septicaemia requires urgent antibiotic treatment.

Signs and symptoms may include:
– Fever (sometimes with cold hands and feet)
– Joint or muscle pain
– Rapid breathing
– Severe Headaches
– Drowsiness
– Discomfort from bright light
– Neck stiffness
– Vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea
– Non-blanching rash may appear which may be tiny red pin pricks that may develop to purple bruises. This rash does not fade under pressure.

The HSE advises that if anyone has any concerns or showing symptoms, they should contact their GP in the first instance but ensure that medical expertise is sought.

For more information see https://bit.ly/2QF9mje