Boswells Blog

14th September 2018

Flu Vaccination - What you need to know

Flu Vaccination - What you need to know

Winter is well on it's way and so we're pleased to say that we are now offering flu vaccinations in our Pharmacy, to help you make the  ost of the season. The flu vaccination is one of the best ways of protecting your health over the Autumn and Winter months and of preventing the spread of infection between familes, friends and colleagues.The jab itself only takes a few seconds and there are qualified staff available whilst the store is open.

Updated for Autumn 2018 (Available from October 2018):

Adult flu vaccine £12.99

Child flu vaccine £18

Boswells Student Club members & Business or Institution bookings £9.50

So here's what we think you need to know to make a decision on whether it's right for you.

What does the flu vaccine do?

As with all vaccines the injection includes a tiny amount of the flu virus to get your anti-bodies ready to fight off a larger dose. Vaccines have proved the most effective way of fighting viruses. This vaccine helps protect against the viruses most likely to be responsible for causing most cases of flu this winter including the H1N1 virus (swine flu).

What possible side effects are there?

Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine?

Can I get the flu vaccination for free at Boswells?

Can children get a flu vaccine?

Who shouldn't get a flu vaccine?


What possible side effects are there?

All medicines can have potential side effects. For the flu vaccine most of the potential side effects are not serious and should disappear on their own in a day or two. Most people have no side effects at all.

The most frequently reported side effects include: Fever, Feeling unwell, Shivering, Headache, Sweating, Muscle and joint pain, Skin reactions such as redness, pain, bruising and hardening of the skin at the injection site.

Rare reactions include: Nerve pain and inflammation, Numbness, Tingling, Fits, Thromboctyopaenia (a blood disorder), Vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels), Rare nerve disorders. On rare occasions anaphylaxis may occur (we have procedures in place to deal with this). You should get medical advice straight away if you experience any of these reactions.

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Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine?

No. Although the side effects (if you get some of them) can seem similar you don't have the flu itself.

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Can I get the flu vaccination for free at Boswells?

Yes if you meet the following criteria. Don't worry if you aren't sure. Tell our pharmacy staff & they can advise you before treatment.

1) You are registered with a GP in the Clinical Commissioning Groups of; Aylesbury Vale, Bracknell & Ascot, Chilterns, Oxfordshire, Newbury & District, Reading, Slough, Windsor, Maidenhead or Wokingham AND

2) You are between 18 and 65 years at the time of vaccination AND

3) You have one of the following medical conditions and have a medical exemption certificate. See how to apply for these at the NHS Website.

  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • Carers in receipt of carers allowance
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Respiratory disease
  • Chronic Heart Disease
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Chronic Liver Disease
  • Chronic Neurological Disease
  • Imunosuppression due to disease or treatment.

If you aged over 65 see your GP for a free flu vaccine as this can't be administered in a pharmacy.

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Can children get a flu vaccine?

Yes, between 18 months and 18 years there is a different vaccine. For young children there is also an alternative delivery method than the needle. If necessary raise this with our pharmacy staff. Prices vary based on the type of vaccine and the number of children being treated at one time so speak to our Pharmacist to find out more. 

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Who shouldn't get a flu vaccine?

Our pharmacy staff will go through a short questionnaire to check suitability before treatment but here is a guide on when NOT to take the flu vaccine.

  • If you have a known hypersensitivity to egg products
  • If you are acutely ill on the day of vaccination
  • If you have a history of anaphylactic (allergic) reactions to vaccines. Any allergy should be checked against the specific ingrediants of the flu vaccine.
  • Anyone who has already received the flu vaccine within 12 months.

In addition anyone with the following medical conditions should see their GP before having a flu vaccine. Cerebal Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, any hereditory or degenerative disease of the nervous system or muscles, an allergy to latex, bleeding disorders or those receiving anticoagulant treatments.

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7th March 2017

Introducing Boswells Pharmacy's New Online Services

Introducing Boswells Pharmacy's New Online Services

Pharmacy Green CrossFind out how we can save you time and money!

What is

Our pharmacy became a legally incorporated part of Boswells Department Store in 1890, and has been dispensing advice and medicine to the good people of Oxford ever since. Yet, while Boswells Pharmacy has been here, taking great care of us all for generations, the pharmaceutical world has, of course, moved on a little over the course of the past 137 years…and continues to do so…and so have we.

The addition of our brand-new Boswells Pharmacy website offers you the ability to combine Boswell’s traditional great service, and all important human touch, with a little extra help from the internet. You can now manage your relationship with Boswells Pharmacy, keep track of your prescription requests and access an A-Z health advice database from anywhere with an internet connection, and on a range of different devices. If you’re not too confident with technology, however, then worry not, our pharmacy will also continue to offer all of the same services and excellent face-to-face support that it always has, in store.

What Services Does Provide?

Here are a few of the key things you can now do through our new pharmacy website:

Shop Online

Online Shopping ImageYou can now shop online, for a wide variety of over 15,000 different over the counter healthcare products through our new pharmacy website, even if we don’t currently stock it in store! We’ve teamed up with Weldricks Pharmacy to give you even more products to choose from and at fantastic supermarket matching prices, for delivery right to your doorstep. You can pay securely through the checkout, either by credit card or by PayPal, whichever you prefer. You can also choose your preferred delivery speed during the checkout, and voila, your order will be with you in no time.

Each product page includes full information on any active ingredients, directions on use, a full list of ingredients and any necessary warnings, as well as a product description. 

Electronic Prescription Service

EPS LeafletThe Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) is an NHS funded service, which allows you to electronically manage your repeat prescriptions, and have these sent to a specified pharmacy, ready for you to collect. If you would like to nominate Boswells Pharmacy to receive your prescriptions from your GP you will need to fill in, and sign, an Electronic Prescription Service Consent Form, which you can pick up from us in store or access via the website itself.

You’ll also need to register with us online so that you can update your Doctor’s Surgery details, and put in any prescription requests. Through the website, you can set up reminders, so that you’ll be prompted to send your next prescription request before your current medication runs out, which hopefully means no more last-minute panics to get your medicine on time! Once you’ve placed your request, you can track the status of your request online, and we’ll even let you know when your prescription is ready for you to come and collect from us. Alternitively you can have it delivered free within the Oxford Ring Road, and at competive delivery charges for elsewhere in the UK.

Health Advice

Pharmacy Desk has an A-Z database of medical conditions provided by MedicineChest Ltd. This helpful resource offers a lot of useful information on a wide number of medical conditions, with a little more information on symptoms and living with various conditions. Of course, if you have concerns about your heath you should always consult a doctor for diagnosis, or speak to a pharmacist for advice. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a condition, though, this database can be a fantastic supplementary resource to complement the information your GP has already given you.

In some cases, the database even includes testimonies from other patients, talking about their experiences and the help that they’ve received with managing long-term medical conditions, which can be a huge help if you’re feeling daunted by your diagnosis. For those who register with, you even have the option of assessing your health risk for a range of medical conditions, and to store details such as chronic conditions, family history and the dates of any vaccinations you’ve received.

Other Services

Boswells Pharmacy Image

You can now use the new Boswells Pharmacy website to find out about services the pharmacy provides in store, such as blood pressure testing, stop smoking support, and travel requirement consultations. We're also one of the few pharmacies in the area to offer truss and hoisery fittings. 

You can access the opening times and contact details for our pharmacy via the website too, so that you can easily get in touch with a member of our friendly pharmacy team for help with any of the services that the pharmacy offers.

How Does the New Website Help You?

Pharmacy Mobile Site Image

Our new pharmacy website makes it easy for you to gain access to Boswells Pharmacy, even when it isn’t convenient for you to pop in to see us that day, and allows you to request repeat prescriptions and buy other health-related products with ease. If you’re interested in signing up for EPS, for example, you’ll no longer need to visit your Doctor’s Surgery every time you need a repeat prescription, you can simply put in a request via

Adil Our Superintendent PharmacistWe spoke to Mr Adil Cowan, our Superintendent Pharmacist (photo right), and asked him what he thought the main benefits of this latest addition to our pharmacy services were for our Boswells Pharmacy customers. He told us that “We’ll deliver prescriptions within the ring road free of charge,” and for those that live further away, EPS gives the option for you to continue to use our pharmacy, as we can deliver to your home.

Customers can now “Order what they want, when they want,” without having to pop out to the shops. This means that, if you’re unable to get in to store, for whatever reason, you can still gain access to prescription medication, a wide range of healthcare products, and, as always, the help and advice of our pharmacy staff. 

Pharmacy Staff Image

Adil was very proud to say that Boswells Pharmacy will continue to also offer the same great advice and services that it always has, and that if you’ve “Got queries with your medicine, we’re more than willing to help.” offers you additional options for handling your relationship with Boswells Pharmacy, and gives you access to a range of new resources to utilise, if they suit your needs. For more information on any of the services provided in store or by, you can visit the new website here, or pop in and speak to our friendly Pharmacy staff.

6th January 2016

How to Banish Dandruff This New Year

How to Banish Dandruff This New Year

Managing Dry Scalp and Dandruff 

There may not be white snowflakes on the ground, but we may see the odd white flake on people’s shoulders this winter. Dry skin is a common problem and when it affects the scalp we see the evidence of dandruff very clearly. It affects both men and women, mostly in their twenties; it is the most common scalp problem to walk into a Pharmacy.

Winter Image

There are several factors that control the occurrence of dandruff and, like snow, cold windy weather is one of them. Wintry weather and moving between warm buildings and cold environments has a drying effect on our skin and almost everything you do to your hair can have a drying and damaging effect. Of course, the last thing you want is to spoil your crowning glory. Too many sugary and refined carbohydrates and not enough nutrients like Vitamin B and essential fatty acids can also dry the skin. Not such an easy fix at this time of the year.                                                                                                                                        Image copyright of                           

Hair Brush ImageThe elements you can control are making sure you eat well, brush your hair regularly, and generally treat your hair gently when shampooing and drying. The dandruff that you see is usually made up of piles of dead skin cells and regular brushing will encourage these skin cells to shed normally. Apart from unsightly clumps of dandruff, ready to fall whenever you move your head, the scalp can become itchy. Of course, do check that the white bits in your hair aren’t crawling nits, which is a whole other problem. Not scratching an itch can be almost impossible to do, but try rubbing or massaging the area rather than getting your nails out. You can also try to brush your hair gently to avoid getting an infection. 

Dandruff ImageAnother cause of dandruff is an overgrowth of a fungal yeast, previously known as pityrosporum ovale, but now called malassezia - try saying that after a few mulled wines! Seborrhoeic dermatitis can affect the whole body and might be caused by that same fungus: it can look more serious and might need a visit to the GP for a prescription of anti-fungal, or even antibiotic, treatment.

Never Fear, Anti-Dandruff is Here!

Those embarrassing dandruff flakes can be cleared up easily with a specialised shampoo. Which one to use can be a harder decision; generally speaking if you haven’t seen an improvement within a few weeks, try a different one. Once you do see an improvement stick with it, as it may come back. Anti-Fungal shampoos containing Zinc Pyrithione, Coal Tar, Arachis Oil, Extract of Coal Tar, Ketoconazole, Selenium Sulphide, Ciclopirox Olamine, Undecenoic Acid all help to reduce the overgrowth of yeast. Keratolytic, Salicylic Acid and Benzalkonium all help to remove the build up of dead skin cells and can be found in combination with some anti-fungals. Ask your GP, as these can be cheaper on prescription.

Here at Boswells we have a range of specialised shampoos including (in our cosmetics department):

In the Pharmacy we have:

  • Selsun ImageSebamed Anti-Dandruff Shampoo for an oily dandruff prone scalp. £5.10 200ml.
  • Selsun Shampoo 2.5% w/v (Selenium Sulphide) Medical treatment for Dandruff £5.53 150ml. Not recommended for children under 5 years old. 
  • Capasal Therapeutic Shampoo (Salicylic Acid 0.5% w/w, Coconut Oil 1.0% w/w, Distilled Coal Tar 1.0% w/w;) £9.38 250ml. For dry, scaly scalp conditions, and to remove previous scalp applications.
  • Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo Coal Tar Extract. £5.90-£9.10 125ml-250ml.
  • Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Fragrance Free. £6.48 60ml.
  • Alphosyl 2 in 1 Shampoo Medicated Coal Tar. £6.99 250ml.
  • Oilatum Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo £9.18 100ml. For itchy, flaking scalps, including stubborn dandruff.
  • Neem Shampoo £5.99 200ml. Contains extracts of Neem leaves and has a soothing action, leaving the scalp and hair feeling fresh and healthy. Keep out of reach and sight of children. Not suitable for those with nut allergies and not for use during pregnancy.
  • Head & Shoulders: the classic choice of various shampoos, conditioners and 2 in 1's. £2.99-£3.10.

Head and ShouldersDon't forget that if you use harsh shampoos they can dry the scalp out, so don't overdo these products, as you could make things worse! Call in to Boswells and ask the advice of our pharmacists to prevent this from happening. There are many other products designed to moisturise your hair and scalp, including deep oil treatments that can be left on the hair. If you really want to give your dry itchy scalp a treat, Baby Oil and Baby Shampoo are the key. Gently massage a few drops of Baby Oil into your scalp, place a shower cap over your hair and leave for an hour while you relax. Later use the Baby Shampoo to gently rinse the Oil out, leaving your skin richly moisturised and flake free. This treatment does not increase the dryness of the scalp skin, which makes dandruff worse.

So why not start the New Year with a happy, flake free scalp? Enjoy!

Banner image credit, cropped from original.

30th September 2015

How To Outrun Athlete's Foot

How To Outrun Athlete's Foot

Rosie in our pharmacy has put together some helpful tips on how to shift athlete's foot, and keep your feet happy and healthy.

The Fungi’s You Don’t Want To Be Seen With At The Pool

When you take off those sweaty shoes and trainers it’s not only the smell that will linger, but also invisible spores from Fungal Infections. Athlete's Foot or (Tinea Pedis) is highly contagious. The name comes from damp floors in changing rooms and around swimming pools, where it is easily picked up by bare feet, as the sufferer will shed skin cells and spores wherever he/she goes barefoot.


Feet Image

Bless your cotton socks and leather/canvas shoes, as they actually let your feet breathe. Fungi love damp moist conditions and thrive amidst unnatural materials. To prevent infection wash your feet daily with soap, making sure to dry thoroughly between your toes. Athlete's Foot usually starts as red, itchy skin between the 4th and 5th toes. If left untreated it can become inflamed and weepy. The spores may spread to the rest of the foot and into footwear. If it gets into the nails it will need more expensive treatment. In the case of fungal nail infections such as Onychomycosis the nails turn white/yellow as they thicken. They become brittle and may separate from the nail bed.

Treating Athlete's Foot

Once Athlete's Foot is found there are several products that can be used to treat this unsightly condition. Here in Boswells Pharmacy we have:

Treatment should continue on the surrounding skin for another two weeks after the symptoms have gone. Check with our friendly pharmacist as some creams should not be used for longer than 5-7 days.

Breaking the Athlete's Foot Cycle

It's important to remember that fungi can be invisible to the eye; you may not see the spores but they could still be there. Don’t forget to spray in shoes, socks and hosiery to eradicate the spores. When battling athletes foot always maintain the daily hygiene routine, using a separate towel for your feet. Don't share towels and make sure that you do change socks and hosiery daily.

Spores can remain in the skin, ready to reappear as soon as those moist and sweaty conditions return. If you are unable to break that cycle you may have to buy more footwear. Still, who doesn’t like buying more shoes?

Lastly, but importantly, don’t let it go on for too long without treatment, as ignoring minor infections can lead to more serious medical conditions such as abscesses. 

14th July 2015

How To protect Against Malaria When Travelling Abroad

How To protect Against Malaria When Travelling Abroad

Wherever you travel this year you can never be far from the sort of biting, stinging insects that ruin a good holiday. There are even mosquitos in Britain due to higher temperatures, but luckily so far none of the Malaria carrying kind. If you’re venturing further afield you would do well to seek expert advice from one of our friendly Pharmacists so we thought this blog might be helpful too.

MosquitoMalaria is a very serious disease, but one that we can treat and take steps to lower the risk of catching. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito which passes the malaria parasite (Plasmodium Falciparum) into the bloodstream.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, chills, and nausea, but can take weeks and even months to appear. Nothing is 100% effective but with expert advice from your Doctor or Pharmacist you can greatly reduce your chances of contracting the disease, even if bitten.

While making your travel plans it’s worthwhile doing some health research on the areas that you will be travelling through. We recommend the NHS Fit for Travel Website.

If you discover that you are travelling to an area with Malaria then there is a set procedure to go through to get your antimalarial medication. If you see a Doctor Malaria protection is not normally available on NHS prescription. However, there are exceptions based on certain underlying health conditions in which case the standard £8.20 prescription charge per item is applicable. Unless you also qualify for free NHS prescriptions. Otherwise, a Doctor can make a private prescription which normally costs £15 plus the cost of the medicine.

Malaria PGD form exampleThe cheaper alternative is to ask your pharmacist who will use a “Patient Group Direction Form (PGD)” which contains questions designed to determine which anti-malarial treatment would suit you best. The form costs £12.50 at Boswells. Other pharmacies normally charge between £12.50 and £15.

Please note that if you consult a Nurse or Doctor and they recommend a type of medication without a prvate prescription the PGD is still required.

Here at Boswells of Oxford we provide a private consultation room where you can discuss your travel needs with the Pharmacist in comfort and in confidence. This is available Mon – Sat after 10.30am. Appointments are not necessary although we recommend avoiding lunchtimes.

Jungle FormulaA consultation will include checking your travel location, medical history, age and other circumstances in order to recommend and supply anti-malarial and other travel medicines without the need for that private prescription. A minority of people may still need one of the few types of medication that is prescription only. They would then still need to see a Doctor for a private prescription. However we cannot tell this without going through the PGD.

It is worth noting that the medication is tailored to your specific requirements for your specific current plans. It is not applicable to someone else, even if they are making the same trip.  Any antimalarial you may have taken in the past may not be correct for your current trip. Malaria warnings change frequently, often with the season so we can’t make a recommendation more than 6-8 weeks prior to travel.

Once you have your medication it is VERY important that the full course is completed. This includes before you travel to the malaria risk area and for some time after you have left the area. Therefore the cost of your medication will depend not just on the type of medicine but on how many tablets you need.

Don’t think that just because you have the tablets you don’t need to worry about being bitten. There are sensible preventative measures that you can take to lower your risk. Wearing long sleeves and long trousers after sunset outdoors may be a buzz kill, but better than a buzz bite. Applying insect repellent with a high percentage of DEET regularly on exposed skin is advisable. We have a range of the popular Jungle Formula products and alternatives in our Pharmacy Department.

Those people who prefer to use a more natural product, such as citronella to repel insects, will find Quit Bugging Me Lotion Spray in our cosmetics department. This hydrating lotion helps keep mosquitoes, gnats, horseflies, black and biting flies at bay.

There is little hard scientific evidence that changes to your diet will deter insects from tasting your blood, so we certainly don't recommend relying on this.

Anthisan CreamIf bitten then immediate treatment is recommended. An Anthisan Bite & Sting cream is a traditional treatment, but whether using a cream or not it is important to clean the wound with clean water or even better an antiseptic wipe or spray. Scratching the bite may be tempting, but that raises the possibility of infection.  Keep an eye out for signs of infection which can include increased redness and swelling with pain and perhaps blistering or pus at the bite site. If the bite doesn’t improve after treatment or you see infections signs see a Doctor. Your hotel can often help locate a Doctor for you.

Knowing what weather to expect will aid your packing. Knowing which vaccines/medicines you will need will keep you healthy. As will understanding what protection ’s important to the locals.

Don’t forget the sunscreen, take pictures and leave only memories. Enjoy your travels.

19th May 2014

Stop The Sneezing Season

Stop The Sneezing Season

Let our pharmacy staff take the strain and help you fight off hayfever symptoms this year.

There are actually 3 main active ingredients in Hay Fever medication. Speak to our pharmacy staff for the best advice for you and of course always read the labels.

Here are just some of the products in store now in the various ways you can take your medicine.


The most convenient way to take medicine for most people. We have Numark Loratadine one a day tablets from as little as £2.03 for 14 or £6.95 for 60 pills. For those looking for a natural source of medicine look into the Nature's aid Quercetin formula from £5.95 per bottle.

 hayfever tablets

Nasal Sprays

These can build up resistance as well as help quell symptoms. Pictured is the largest size and therefore longest lasting the Beconase 180ml spray at £10.22.

 hayfever spray


Eye Drops

A god-send when the itchy eyes start. Don't give in to the temptation to rub. Instead reach for the eye drops. Pictured is one of our most popular drops the Otrivine eye drops from only £4.50.

 hayfever eye drops



Particularly easy to administer to children or for those who struggle with pills. Peach is a popular flavour. Pictured is the Clarityn syrup from £4.49. 

 hayfever syrups