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Eczema, rashes and shingles: Pharmacy’s growing role in helping patients with skin conditions

Contractor Mike Hewitson has seen patients presenting with a variety of dermatology conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but stresses pharmacy teams have an important role to play in this area far beyond the pandemic

C+D’s clinical and custom content editor, Naimah Callachand, spoke to Mike Hewitson, owner of Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset, about the growing number of patients presenting in pharmacies with skin conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


“People are actively presenting [in] pharmacies because they can't get in see the GP or the GPs have changed their access requirements,” Mr Hewitson says.


As a result, he has seen “anything and everything” during the pandemic, including shingles, potential skin cancers, infected rashes, poorly managed eczema and even mask-related fungal infections.

At the time of recording, Mr Hewitson was in the process of completing his independent prescriber qualification, which he says will help allay some patients’ and pharmacists’ “frustrations” when it comes to dermatology conditions. Rather than having to refer back to the GP for a condition – “you can accurately diagnose the problem, and you know what the treatment is”, he explains – independent prescribing pharmacists will be able to help provide an end-to-end service, from diagnosis to treatment.

“I found dermatology to be really rewarding,” Mr Hewitson says. “One of the problems we've got in pharmacy is that we are in no way remunerated for the time or care [we provide]. So, from my point of view, I do it because I'm interested in it, and I want to do it.

“But we do need to be mindful that we have got an important role in triaging some of these patients,” he concludes.

In this podcast, Mr Hewitson discusses:

  • The varying types of skin conditions he has encountered during the pandemic

  • The importance of knowing the limits of your scope of practice, but taking the time to have a proper conversation and ask patients questions

  • The red flags that all pharmacy teams should be aware of, including being able to differentiate between wider cellulitis and an allergic response

  • The training opportunities for pharmacy professionals interested in finding out more about dermatology.


You can listen to the podcast below. Alternatively, follow C+D's podcasts by searching “Chemist+Druggist podcast” on your preferred app or on Soundcloud.

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