Managing their own personal health and making sure they
are registered with and are using local health services
means they will be able to cope with common illnesses
and to also know when they might have the signs of
something more serious.
Register with a local GP, dentist and optician.
Use your local pharmacy. Pharmacists are highly trained
health professionals, can advise them on many health
issues and will also let them know if they need to see
their GP or other health professional.
Keep a small supply of useful medicines at home. Make
sure they always follow instructions carefully, always take
these with parental/carers advice and direction and
check use by dates. Remember staff at school cannot
give students medicine unless this has been agreed and
they have a specific health care plan in place in school.
Their school nurse can help draw this up if required.
Use local sexual health services.
Register for a C Card which will enable them to pick up
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for their body
and mind. Developing a regular bedtime routine can help
them form some healthy sleep habits and make sure
they are well rested. They need to aim to go to bed the
same time each night and avoid screens (laptops, TVs
and mobile phones) for an hour before they go to sleep
as the type of light these devices omit can stop them
getting to sleep easily.
Make taking showers/baths, brushing their teeth,
cleaning and drying their clothes and using deodorant a
part of their personal hygiene routine.
Make sure their immunisations are up to date. They may
need a new meningitis booster if they are 17 or 18.
Check this with their GP.
Common illnesses and conditions
Coughs and colds
There are some good things about catching a few coughs
and colds - it helps build-up their natural defences and
fight off viruses. Most bugs will run their course without
doing any real harm because they are viruses which get
better on their own. However, there are things they can do
at home to help:
If symptoms persist for more than a few days they must
visit their pharmacist or GP.
Gastroenteritis can be caused by a virus or food poisoning,
and is relatively common.
Most cases resolve themselves within a few days, without
the need for medical treatment. Ensure they drink plenty of
water so that they don’t become dehydrated. Be extra
careful with hand hygiene (use soap and water and dry
If the gastroenteritis lasts for more than three or four days,
get advice from a health professional, such as their GP or
Headaches are quite common and most headaches are
not due to a serious health problem. They can be brought
on by skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, using
computers, tablets or mobile devices for a long time
without breaks and occasionally from playing sport which
can make them dehydrated. Sometimes headaches can be
the result of stress.
They can often be the result of stress or visual problems
and can be avoided by making sure they get enough food,
drink and sleep. Most headaches can be treated at home
with paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always check the label for
the correct dosage.
Encourage them to visit the optician if they feel that their
vision is causing the problem. Vision check ups are free to
school age children. If their symptoms do not resolve
please get them to visit the GP.
Around 80% of teenagers get some form of acne and there
are many myths about what causes it. Acne consists of
spots and painful bumps on the skin. It’s most noticeable
on the face, but can also appear on the back, shoulders
and buttocks. Severe acne can cause scarring, so it is
important to get treated. Acne is mostly due to the way
skin reacts to hormonal changes. Cases of teenage acne
are thought to be triggered by increased levels of a
hormone called testosterone that occurs during puberty.
Treatments are available from their pharmacy but if there is
no improvement, they should visit their GP who can assess
how bad their acne is and discuss the options with them. If
acne is severe, their GP can refer them to a dermatologist
(an expert in treating skin conditions). Treatments can take
between two to three months to work but, once they do,
the results are usually effective.