What are minor ailments?

Minor ailments are generally defined as non-complicated medical conditions that can be reasonably self-diagnosed and self-managed with over-the-counter medications, with or without the support of a healthcare professional, e.g. headache, common cold, back pain, heartburn and minor skin condition.

How could pharmacists support minor ailment management?

Pharmacists could support minor ailment management by assessing individuals’ condition, provision of personalized advice on lifestyle changes and medication usage, followed by medication supply and appropriate referral to services provided by other health professionals and social organizations.

Image courtesy of Health In Action Community Pharmacy via http://www.hia.org.hk/pharmacy/en/home-2/

Image courtesy of Lok Sin Tong Community Pharmacy via https://www.facebook.com/loksintongcommunitypharmacy/

Image courtesy of Hong Kong Pharmaceutical Care Foundation via http://www.pcfhk.org/en/


When a lady presents to the pharmacist with red and dry skins with mild peeling in her hands, the pharmacist would evaluate her condition and recommend the most appropriate initial self-management. For instance, if the pharmacist finds that the lady is a housewife who always handles household chemicals, the pharmacist will offer management and advice that are appropriate for irritant contact dermatitis.

The pharmacist would also explain the cause of condition and suggest possible lifestyle modifications, e.g. wearing gloves when handling chemicals to prevent further irritation. The pharmacist would also provide guidance on the selection of skin emollient that contains minimal irritants such as fragrance.

If the lady is bothered by the symptoms, the pharmacist would check if she is suitable for management with medication. Or if the lady is presenting with any signs of more serious conditions, such as infection, the pharmacist would refer her to seek medical attention.

The minor ailment management service offers affordable and accessible professional advice on the appropriate initial management for various health problems. The service also empowers the client with knowledge and confidence to handle the same health condition if it occurs again.

Service targets

This service targets individuals with minor illnesses and their caregivers.

Service aims and objectives

  • To improve the individuals’ ability to enhance health management for themselves and to provide appropriate care and support for their family.
  • To ease healthcare- and medicine-related financial burden in the community.
  • To encourage and promote efficient utilization of public healthcare services and resources.

Expected outcomes

With this service, individuals would acquire essential knowledge and skills to handle basic health issues and optimize medication use, as well as to understand when to seek help from health professionals.

To look for more details: http://www.hia.org.hk/pharmacy/minorailments/