Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it’s too hot for too long, there are health risks.
With temperatures due to soar over the weekend and into next week, south west Londoners are being urged to stay safe in the sun and look out for each other.
Thousands of people end up in hospital each year because of heat, with conditions including severe sunburn, heat exhaustion and sun and heatstroke.
Getting out and about in the hot weather can also trigger allergies, with some people admitted to hospital due to the effects of pollen or being stung by wasps, hornets, and other insects.
The risk of serious illness is much higher for the older people, children and young people, and those who already have health conditions, including heart and breathing problems. Which is why it’s important to check on neighbours and older people relatives while the temperature remains high.
Advice on how to reduce the risk either for yourself or somebody you know is available on the NHS website (www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/heatwave-how-to-cope-in-hot-weather)
Those with less serious conditions are encouraged to ‘talk before they walk’, by getting advice from the free NHS 111 phone and online service to check symptoms and decide on the best course of action.
People with minor injuries or mild conditions which can be better dealt with at home or with over-the-counter remedies and advice from community pharmacists are reminded not to go to A&E and call NHS 111 if they are unsure.
As spring arrives and people are outdoors more, you may find yourself with more bites and stings. Most insect bites and stings are not serious and will get better within a few hours or days.
What to do if you’ve been bitten or stung:
To treat an insect bite or sting:
- Remove the sting or tick if it’s still in the skin
- Wash the affected area with soap and water
- Apply a cold compress (such as a flannel or cloth cooled with cold water) or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes
- Raise or elevate the affected area if possible, as this can help reduce swelling
- Avoid scratching the area, to reduce the risk of infection
- Avoid traditional home remedies, such as vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, as they’re unlikely to help
The pain, swelling and itchiness can sometimes last a few days. Ask your pharmacist about medicines that can help, such as painkillers, creams for itching and antihistamines.
Read more about treating insect bites and stings.
Read more here for NICE Guidance on insect bites and stings: antimicrobial prescribing.
When to get medical advice
Contact us or call NHS 111 for advice if:
- You’re worried about a bite or sting
- Your symptoms do not start to improve within a few days or are getting worse
- You’ve been stung or bitten in your mouth or throat, or near your eyes
- A large area (around 10cm or more patch of skin) around the bites becomes red and swollen
- You have symptoms of a wound infection, such as pus or increasing pain, swelling or redness
- You have symptoms of a more widespread infection, such as a high temperature, swollen glands and other flu-like symptoms
SWL CCGs (NHS Croydon, NHS Merton, NHS Richmond, NHS Sutton and NHS Wandsworth) are committed to delivering best value by ensuring that we use our resources well. To help us to support the implementation of the NHS England guidance ‘Conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed in primary care’ (March 2018), SWL CCGs no longer support the routine prescribing of health supplements and medications that can be bought over the counter for minor conditions, self-limiting and short-term illnesses. For the SWL position statement please click here.
Why are we doing this?
- We want to help people lead longer, healthier lives and support them to take better care of their health. Self-care is about avoiding becoming ill and seeking help when needed. By managing minor health needs through self-care, it will help to ease the pressure on the NHS.
- SWL CCGs have a set amount of money to pay for the health services that are needed and have a duty to spend that money wisely.
What treatment and preparations are included?
- Pharmacy Only (P) and General Sales Lists (GSL) treatments that can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy with or without advice
- GSL treatments (including a patient information leaflet) that can be purchased from other retail outlets such as supermarkets, petrol stations, convenience or discount stores
- Treatments that are used to treat a condition that is considered to be self-limiting and so does not need treatment as it will heal/resolve by itself; and/or
- Treatments that are used to treat a condition which lends itself to self-care, i.e. that the person suffering does not normally need to seek medical care and/or treatment for the condition.
- Treatments available OTC which should no longer be prescribed in SW London are listed below.
To read more on how prescribing of over the counter medicines is changing: click here to see NHS patient leaflets. These leaflets have been produced to help CCGs implement recommendations and support discussions between patients and their healthcare professionals .