There are a variety of illnesses and infections that can affect young people. To reduce the risk of getting ill, it is important to have good personal hygiene (including hand washing), and to ensure your vaccinations are up to date. For more information on vaccines, see our immunisations page.
Taking medication, like paracetamol is usually enough to make you feel well enough to go to school. Make sure you talk to your parent/carer about any medication you take and never take more than the recommended dose.
A pharmacist can give advice on minor injuries or illnesses, such as infections, cold and flu, travel advice and rashes. They can also prescribe certain medicines including emergency contraception, flu vaccines and emergency supplies of your regular prescriptions.
If the NHS website or your pharmacist haven’t been able to help, you can contact your GP. They can treat many conditions and give you health advice. They can also refer you to other NHS services. Find a GP near you to register with one.
If you have an urgent but non-life-threatening medical concern, you can get advice from a fully trained adviser at NHS 111 online
Our four Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) are open seven days a week from 8am - 8pm across Derbyshire. Service locations include Ilkeston Hospital, Whitworth Hospital, Buxton Hospital & Ripley Hospital.
Lastly, in the event of a real emergency or life-threatening situation call 999 or visit your nearest A&E.
Acne: Acne does not carry a significant physical health risk, however it can impact your emotional health significantly, as it may lead to poor self-esteem, poor body image, and anxiety. Read our top tips for looking after your skin.
Cold sores: The first sign of a cold sore coming is often a tingling, itching or burning feeling on your lips, or around your mouth and nose. Cold sores can spread easily to other people, so keep good personal hygiene until they heal. They can be uncomfortable and might make you feel self-conscious. Pharmacists can recommend creams to help them heal and help with discomfort you might have.
Covid-19: If you think you have covid, it’s important that you get tested and stay away from other people until you’re better. The covid vaccine helps to keep you from getting seriously ill and helps to stop the spread. Find out more about the symptoms of covid, getting tested and the covid vaccine here.
Glandular fever: You usually only get glandular fever once. It can make you feel really ill, but it normally goes away by itself without treatment. Signs of glandular fever include a fever, a sore throat, and tiredness. If you have glandular fever, make sure you get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and wash your bedding to keep it clean. Don’t drink alcohol and don’t kiss anyone until you feel better as this is how it’s easily spread between people.
Headaches: Everyone has headaches from time to time. They can often be your body telling you to look after yourself. Drinking plenty of water, not skipping meals and getting enough sleep will usually help a headache to go away. If your headache gets worse, it could be a migraine.
Migraine: A migraine is a painful headache that occurs on one side of your head. Find out more about the symptoms, causes, and how to treat migraines here.
Period pain: Most people who have periods will have period pain at some point in their lives. It’s normal but can be really uncomfortable. Applying heat to your tummy area can relieve the pain, a warm bath or shower can help and some gentle massage can help too. Find out more about period pain here. Tracking your periods can help you identify at which point in the cycle you feel the most discomfort so you can be prepared. You can make a note of your periods in your phone calendar or diary.
Rashes: There are lots of different types of rashes and lots of different reasons behind them. Sometimes they can be your skin having a small reaction to something like grass or to changes in soaps or make-up. But sometimes they can indicate something more serious like meningitis. The NHS website has pictures of different rashes and advice on treating them and when to get medical help. For information on meningitis, see the serious illnesses section below.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): STIs can pass from one person to another during sex, especially if you don’t use a condom. If you’re sexually active, it’s normal to catch an STI and you shouldn’t be ashamed. Some STIs don’t have symptoms so it’s important to get tested if you are worried, especially if you have recently changed partners. Find out more about how to get tested here.
Sore throats/tonsillitis: Sore throats are very common and although they are uncomfortable and can be painful, they usually get better by themselves within a week. Tonsillitis usually feels like a sore throat as well as cold or flu symptoms. To help ease a sore throat you can take paracetamol, eat soft foods, drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as you can.
Thrush: Thrush is a fungal infection commonly found in the vagina and penis. There are lots of reasons thrush can develop, but it isn’t usually serious and goes away with some simple treatments. Pharmacists can recommend creams to treat it, or you can go to a sexual health clinic. Find out more about thrush here.
Toothache: Toothache can usually be treated with paracetamol and by eating soft foods. However, if toothache lasts for more than 2 days, it’s a good idea to see a dentist. If you need to register with a dentist, find out more here. If you are under age 18, or under age 19 and in full-time education, you don’t have to pay for NHS dental services.
Tummy bugs: Diarrhoea and vomiting are the unpleasant symptoms of having a tummy bug. Often caused by norovirus or food poisoning, tummy bugs can spread easily so you should stay at home for 48 hours after you last vomit. These illnesses usually last a couple of days and clear up by themselves. To avoid tummy bugs, make sure you wash your hands regularly and practice good food hygiene.
Measles: Symptoms of measles are cold-like symptoms followed by the development of a rash. Measles is highly infectious and can cause serious problems for some people. It is most likely to be prevented by the MMR vaccine.
Meningitis: Meningitis is a serious infection that can be life threatening if not treated quickly. The most effective way to prevent meningitis is to get your meningitis vaccine. The NHS website has lots of information on meningitis, including what the symptoms are and what to do in an emergency.
Mumps: Mumps are a viral infection that cause swelling of the glands that sit under the ears. Whilst usually not serious, it is a highly contagious illness. Mumps is easily prevented by the MMR vaccine.
Screening for heart problems: Heart problems aren’t always obvious, so if your family has a history of heart issues or you’re worried about the health of your heart, it’s a good idea to get screened. Find out more about screening here.
Do you need to stay off school if you're unwell? Not always. Have a look at this list to find out if you can still attend school if you've got an illness:
Athlete’s foot: No need to stay off school.
Cold Sores: No need to stay off school.
Conjunctivitis: No need to stay off school.
Cold and Flu-like illness (including COVID-19): Yes stay off school, until you no longer have a high temperature and feel well enough to attend school.
Diphtheria: Yes, staying at home is essential (contact UKSHA for advice on exclusion time). You should inform your GP and school.
Flu: Yes stay off school. You need to be well enough to attend setting.
Rubella: Yes stay off school as soon as symptoms develop until 5 days after the onset of the rash. You need to be well enough to attend sschool. You should inform your GP and school.
Glandular fever: No need to stay off school unless you feel unwell.
Impetigo: Yes stay off school until lesions are crusted & healed or 48 hours after starting antibiotics.
Measles: Yes. Stay off school for at least 4 days from when the rash appears and when you are well enough to attend. Inform your GP and school.
Meningitis: Yes, stay off school until you're well enough to return.
Molluscum Contagiosum viral skin infection: No need to stay off school.
Mumps: Yes, stay off school until five days after onset of swelling. You should inform your GP and school.
Ringworm: No need to stay off school.
Scabies: Yes stay off school. You can go back to school after the first treatment.
Scarlet fever: Yes stay off school. You can return to school 24 hours after starting antibiotics and if you are
well enough to attend.
Sickness bug/diarrhoea and vomiting: Yes stay off school. You can return to school 48 hours after your last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting.
Warts and Verrucas: No need to stay off school.
Abortion: An abortion is the medical process of ending a pregnancy so it does not result in the birth of a baby. Depending on how many weeks you have been pregnant, the pregnancy is ended either by taking medication or by having a surgical procedure. If you are considering a termination/abortion you can be referred via your GP practice, sexual health clinic or self-refer to Chesterfield Royal Hospital to discuss your options. Find out more here.
Emergency contraception: If you have recently had unprotected sex, there are two types of emergency contraception available to help prevent pregnancy: the morning after pill and the intrauterine device (IUD). Find out how to access them here.
Growing pains: Nobody knows what causes growing pains, but they are quite common and nothing to worry about. The pain is usually an aching or throbbing in both legs and is worse in the evening or night-time. It can also come on after playing a lot of sport. Find out about things you can do to ease growing pains.
Stretch marks: Stretch marks occur when your body grows quickly or you put on weight. Stretch marks fade over time, but might not ever completely disappear. Whilst they’re harmless, they can make us feel self-conscious and affect our self-esteem. But they are completely normal and lots of people get them. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Find out more about puberty here.