Content Map Terms

Expanded Pharmacy Services

You can visit a pharmacist to get assessed and offered treatment for 21 minor ailments and contraception. This service is free to all B.C. residents with a Personal Health Number and is available at local pharmacies.

Your visit may include getting a prescription for medication, advice for self-care or a recommendation to see another health care provider for further assessment. You can use the online booking tool to make an appointment with a pharmacist near you.

Pharmacies charge different amounts for drugs and and for dispensing them. You may want to compare prices and services before you fill a prescription.

Learn more about expanded pharmacy services in British Columbia.

You can also call 8-1-1  to speak with a registered nurse or pharmacist. Nurses are available anytime of the day, every day of the year. Pharmacists are available every night from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

For severe symptoms or a medical emergency, seek immediate medical attention or call 9-1-1


Contraception (or birth control) can help prevent pregnancy. There are many types of contraception available. Speak with your health care provider to help decide which type is right for you.

For more information, visit the following resources:

Minor Ailments

You can see a pharmacist to be assessed and treated for the all the conditions listed below.

Cold sores

Cold sores are small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. Cold sores begin with itching, tingling or burning sensations on the lip. A cluster of fluid-filled, painful blisters surrounded by redness can appear. The blisters break, crust over and usually heal within 7-10 days.

Read more about cold sores.


Shingles is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. The shingles vaccine is the best way you can protect yourself against the virus. For more information about the shingles vaccine, read HealthLinkBC File #111 Shingles Vaccine or visit the ImmunizeBC Shingles web page.

Symptoms typically include:

  • Painful, blistering rash on one side of face or body, and
  • Pain, burning, tingling or numbness around affected area 1-5 days before rash appears

Read more about shingles.

Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)

An allergic reaction occurs when a person's immune system treats a protein (an allergen) as harmful. These allergens may also cause asthma attacks. Learn about seasonal allergies, including triggers, symptoms and home treatment.

You may experience one or more of the following symptoms, unrelated to an infection such as cold or flu:

  • Stuffy or runny nose (usually clear and watery)
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, eyes, and/or throat
  • Common allergens could include pollen, dust, mould

Acne (mild)

Acne is a skin problem sometimes called blackheads, pimples, or zits with the following symptoms:

  • Whiteheads and/or blackheads, or
  • Small red bumps and pimples filled with pus

Read more about acne.


Dermatitis includes diaper rash, seborrheic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, allergic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. Symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Dry, red and itchy skin
  • Cracked and oozing blisters
  • Scaly and patchy skin

Read more about dermatitis.

Hives or itching skin

Hives or itching skin (urticaria) presents in these ways:

  • Small bumps or blisters that may be painful, itchy and/or swollen
  • May feel like a sharp burning pain or stinging
  • Itching could be from insect bites, allergies to drugs or certain substances

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (Anaphylaxis) can start within minutes of eating or exposure to an allergen (a substance capable of causing an allergic reaction).

Read more about severe allergic reactions.

Urinary tract infection

Symptoms typically include:

  • Frequent urination, pain while urinating, and difficulty holding in urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine

If you are pregnant or male, please visit a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Read more about urinary tract infections.

Vaginal yeast infection

Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections include vaginal itch, irritation, and redness with white, cottage cheese–like discharge.

Read more about vaginal yeast infections.

Menstrual pain

Symptoms of menstrual pain include:

  • Pain and cramps in the lower abdomen (belly), and/or
  • Pain in the lower back that starts a few hours before a period

Read more about menstrual pain.

Pink eye

Pinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, is a common childhood illness. Pinkeye usually makes the whites of your eyes turn red or pink and can cause them to tear or become itchy. Pus can make your eyelids sticky, especially when you sleep.

Symptoms of pink eye include:

  • Red eye(s) plus discharge that is watery and mucus-like, or that is thick and white, yellow or green, and/or
  • Scratchy, burning, itching or the feeling that something is in the eye

To learn more, visit:


Impetigo is usually a mild skin infection common in children during the summer months.

Symptoms of impetigo include:

  • Small blisters on skin that ooze fluid, then dry to form yellow-brown crust
  • Usually appears around nose and mouth
  • May itch, but usually not painful

For information on what impetigo looks like, how it spreads, when to see a health care provider, and how you can help your child, read:

Fungal infection of skin or nail

Examples of fungal infections:

  • Jock itch: Large, round, red patches with bumpy or scaly, well-defined borders, usually on upper inner thigh or groin. May spread to inner leg toward buttocks or toward stomach/abdomen. Commonly itchy, burning
  • Athlete's foot: Commonly occurs between toes but may occur on other areas of the feet. May be itchy, cracked or scaly, inflamed or blistered skin that burns and/or hurts
  • Ringworm: Small, round, red patch with well-defined bumpy or scaly border that usually occurs on neck, trunk, or limbs. May feel itchy or burning
  • Nail infection: May occur in fingernails or toenails. Commonly, thickened, brittle nails starting at tip of nail and spreading to the whole nail with yellow/white or orange/brown-coloured vertical streaks. May have pain or discomfort

Read more about these conditions:

Indigestion (upset stomach)

Symptoms of indigestion:

  • Common symptoms include heartburn, nausea, bloating, stomach discomfort, feeling full soon after eating, burping up food, stomach acid or gas

Read about indigestion.

Heartburn (GERD)

Symptoms of heartburn include:

  • Burping, stomach acid rising from stomach into mouth, and/or
  • Burning feeling in the stomach or lower chest rising to the neck

Read more about heartburn.


Symptoms may include pain, tightness, and pressure on both sides of head and across forehead of mild to moderate intensity with no nausea or vomiting

Read more about headaches.

Sprains and strains

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain, swelling or tenderness (mild to medium severity)
  • Redness or bruising
  • Limited range of motion with muscle weakness
  • Injury associated with overworking or straining

Read more about ankle sprains.

Canker sores

Canker sores are small, shallow, painful, recurrent lesions on lining inside the mouth, cheek or on the tongue. Lesions usually have red border with white or yellow centre.

Read more about canker sores.

Oral thrush

Oral thrush is a yeast infection that causes white or cream-white spots/patches on lips, inside mouth, on tongue and/or roof of mouth.

Symptoms include:

  • Cottage cheese–like appearance
  • Patches can be scraped off
  • May experience dry mouth and/or loss of taste

Read more about oral thrush.


Hemorrhoids are swollen veins found on the anal canal that can be painful.

Symptoms include:

  • Itching, burning, swelling (with or without pain), or presence of a lump around the anus/rectum, and/or
  • Bright red blood during/after a bowel movement (may be light spotting on toilet paper or drops of blood in toilet bowl)

Read more about hemorrhoids.

Pinworms and threadworms

Symptoms of pinworms and threadworms:

  • Itchy anus and belly pain are common, although some people have no symptoms
  • NOTE: Diagnosis usually involves visual inspection of worms or using adhesive to trap eggs for examination.

Read more about pinworms and threadworms.

Nicotine dependency

Pharmacists can start you on a free 12-week course of nicotine patches, lozenges, or gum. They can also prescribe the oral medications varenicline or bupropion, which you may have to pay for some or all of, depending on your PharmaCare coverage.

Meet with a pharmacist to get help quitting smoking or using other tobacco products.

Read more about quitting smoking.

Last updated: June 29, 2023