Sadik Al-Hassan presents practical tips on how contractors can get ready for the onslaught of pharmacy needs that crop up as their younger patients return to school…

A s the new school year approaches parents won’t just be in a flurry of buying new pencil cases and the next size up in shoes but also will be looking to stock their cupboard for their health needs for the next year.

Along with the Supermarket’s Back-to-School sales there is also the opportunity to help parents with a clever display of the top needed cupboard accessories with some smart recommendations to help with choices.

Looking at the UK retail market it is also worth considering that we are seeing a push for sustainability in products with those touting green credentials starting to stand out from the competitors but with a backdrop of rising prices making price perhaps more important than ever.

Cuts and scrapes

One to definitely think about in the children’s health range for back to school is plasters and wound cleaning preparations for those inevitable playground grazed knees, cuts and scrapes.

With a focus on sustainability and some strong green credentials Elastoplast Green and Protect should be considered for any back to school health display with eco-friendly construction and a climate neutral product but there is also Patch Kids Bamboo Sensitive Plasters which boast being home compostable.

Looking at stocking a specific knee plaster such as Elastoplast Knee and Elbow could be an easy win as well as some bright attractive child branded mixed back. When thinking about plasters a wound spray or ointment also fits well in any medicine cabinet with spray on plasters often coming in and out of fashion but worth a thought.

Pain relief

With pain relief having a value offering bottles of 100ml Paracetamol and Ibuprofen in a back to school section will help Parents feel like they are saving money without sacrificing on quality. Parents may also consider the portability of products offered in sachets such as Calpol Six Plus Paracetamol sachets.

Head lice

School time also brings the threat of the dreaded itchy head from Head Lice with favorites like the Nitty Gritty Nit Free Comb being a must. Pesticide containing treatments have continued to reduce in popularity in favor short acting products that are pesticide-free which generally work via dehydration such as Hedrin All in One Shampoo with conditioning sprays that promise to wipe-out early infections often sitting among top-sellers such as Hedrin Protect and Go.


Children’s nutritional needs are a key concern for any shopping parent and topping up a diet with a multivitamin able to provide nutrients lacking in a day to day diet often makes sense. One of the top children’s vegetables of sweetcorn has low levels of any key micronutrients (excluding a little vitamin C) and it can be a challenge to get children to eat a balanced range of products.

The NHS already suggests that children aged six months to five years should take a supplement of Vitamin A, C and D but also goes on to recommend for Vitamin D everyone over four years old should take a 10mcg daily supplement during autumn/winter time.

The most popular flavor always seems to be fruit/ strawberry and gummy preparations outsell chewable tablets as expected with Haliborange Softies a consistent good performer containing seven key micronutrients and Vitabiotics’ WellKid range offering vegan preparations being useful should there be dietary requirements.


Along with a market of rising prices we also have the threat of rising Covid-19 infection levels at the start of the school along with the usual coughs and colds so prevention products will likely feature in the average parent’s basket.

Arming your child against the onslaught of a new school year will include products such as small packs of antibacterial wipes, children’s face masks (but I advise caution on having too much of a selection as the popularity of these products has declined since the height of the pandemic) and perhaps most importantly a small 30-50ml children’s hand gel with some brands, including Carex Love Hearts Fun Edition, being an easy win as it has a pleasant smell and attractive container.

Coughs and colds

Even with the best prevention a back to school cough or cold is just a matter of time and all parents know this so making sure the cupboard is stocked with appropriate symptom relief is a must. Broncho Stop Junior with its pleasing strawberry flavor has risen in popularity but with the lovely flavor comes a not so lovely price so it is worth considering a value child’s cough proposition to go with it on a display.

For cold symptoms along with any fever control offered by paracetamol or ibuprofen a value child friendly vapor rub is a common link sell product or a vapor oil. Vapor oils also bring us to some very popular items which could be featured on a clever display for coughs and colds among children which is a plug in diffuser or humidifier which tend to be used to help children breath better overnight with Vicks even making a waterless USB diffuser.

Dental care

With a new school year can also come new teeth or losing the odd one or two so dental care for children can often have a showing in a well thought out Back to School section covering the key point of an older child needing a new toothpaste, a value toothbrush and perhaps a teething gel.

For toothpaste a range of products exist but popular ones such as strawberry and mint flavour Aquafresh Splash combines great taste with great protection but strong branding from Sensodyne Pronamel for Children offers a gentle mint taste with a more grown up look would fit on any Back to School offering.

Other opportunities

There are plenty of other potential additions to a Back to School display such as healthy snack items, children’s shampoos or body washes and even more imaginative ideas around child mental health offerings such as fidget toys, the latest children’s book or wellness journals.

Back to school displays can be a very varied offering but the one consistent from a successful one is that parents appreciate good advice from our teams so make sure you brief any counter staff for common questions and recommendations.

Sadik Al-Hassan is superintendent pharmacist at Pilltime Pharmacy, Bristol.


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