Minor Ailments: Assessing and Prescribing


Pharmacists can assess and prescribe for many conditions, including cold sores, allergies and skin conditions.


What is a Minor Ailment?

A minor ailment is:

  • Usually a short term condition
  • Does not usually require any blood work or lab tests
  • Can be managed by your pharmacist at the pharmacy
  • A minor ailment can be treated with:
    • “At-home” or self-care treatments
    • Over-the-counter medication treatments
    • Prescription medications

Currently there are many conditions that your pharmacist can assess and determine if you would benefit from a prescription drug. They are:

  • Allergies
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Calluses and Corns
  • Mild Acne
  • Cold Sores
  • Mild Bites, Stings and Hives
  • Skin Conditions Due to Allergic Reactions
  • Mild Headaches
  • Coughs
  • Mild To Moderate Eczema
  • Dandruff
  • Minor Muscle and Joint Pain
  • Dry Eyes
  • Minor Sleep Disorders
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Nausea
  • Impetigo
  • Non-Infectious Diarrhea
  • Indigestion/Heart Burn
  • Oral Ulcers
  • Nasal Congestion and Sore Throats
  • Skin Fungal Infections Such as Athlete’s Foot
  • Oral Thrush
  • Threadworms and Pinworms
  • Yeast Infections
  • Warts
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Note:  Other conditions that are covered for all NS residents at a pharmacy, include:  Urinary Tract Infections, Shingles, and Contraception.  See pans.ns.ca/covered  for further details on these conditions.

What happens during an assessment?

  • The pharmacist will explain the process and obtain your consent to complete an assessment.
  • You will meet with the pharmacist in a private counselling room, usually next to the pharmacy.
  • Some pharmacies may require an appointment.
  • The pharmacist will have a detailed discussion with you to assess your ailment.
  • The pharmacist will ask what medical conditions you have, what medications you take, what kind of symptoms you are having, and how long have you had them.
  • At this point, the pharmacist will make a recommendation for an over-the-counter medication or a prescription medication.
  • If the pharmacist believes your condition is more serious they will refer you to your doctor
  • Prescriptions written by a pharmacist are paid for by both provincial and private drug plans, as long as that medication would normally be a benefit.
  • There is a fee for the assessment, whether or not the pharmacist prescribes something. This service may be covered by some private drug plans.  Please check with your plan.

What happens after the assessment?

  • If a medication is prescribed during the assessment, the pharmacist will prepare your prescription or you can take the prescription to another pharmacy to be filled
  • The pharmacist then sends notification to your doctor for their records
  • If you do not have a doctor you can be given a copy of the doctor’s notice to keep until you have a doctor
  • The pharmacist will set up with you a follow-up plan.  This may include instructions on when you should call or seek care, and/or a follow-up phone call with the pharmacist. Depending on how you are doing, the pharmacist will tell you to continue your treatment, they will make a different recommendation, or tell you if you need to see your doctor.

Do all pharmacies in Nova Scotia offer minor ailment prescribing services?

  • Most, but not all, pharmacies in Nova Scotia provide minor ailment assessment and prescribing services.*

Will I need to pay to have a minor ailment assessed?

Fees may vary by pharmacy.

There is no fee to have an complicated UTI, shingles or birth control assessed when you present you Nova Scotia Health Card.

* Please contact your pharmacy for more information