What to keep in the Home Medicine Chest
Your medicine chest should include a pain killer such as paracetamol, soluble aspirin or ibuprofen. If children are likely to be treated, remember to keep paracetamol or ibuprofen syrup (preferably sugar free) made specifically for them, and never give aspirin to children under 12 years.
You may also want to keep a decongestant to relieve catarrh, sinusitis and dry cough by adding it to hot water as directed on the bottle, and inhaling the steam. Remember that children may need a different type or dose of decongestant from adults, or they may be treated simply by sitting them in a steam-filled bathroom.
Stomach upsets can affect anyone from time to time. Sometimes you may need a mild laxative and at other times an anti-diarrhoeal agent. Keep both handy, as well as sachets of an oral rehydration solution to prevent the dehydration that can arise from diarrhoea or vomiting. Antacids are useful for treating occasional indigestion.
Antiseptic solution is useful for cleaning minor cuts and grazes - read the label as some antiseptics must be diluted in water before use.
Sun protection is vital for everyone, particularly children, keep a sunscreen of at least SPF15 available. If burning occurs, soothe the skin with a lotion like calamine. Calamine lotion is also useful for taking the sting and itch out of insect bites and stings.
You may want to keep some travel sickness tablets to hand, particularly if you are prone to travel sickness (not all tablets are suitable for everyone, read the label carefully).
Your medicine chest should also include a thermometer. And always have to hand the basic first aid items listed (see First Aid).
Other items for your medicine chest
Add any other items to your medicine chest that you are likely to need. For example, if you’re prone to hayfever or allergies you may want to include antihistamine tablets (remember some of these cause drowsiness). If you take prescription medicines regularly, make sure you have enough and allow time for a new prescription if necessary.
Keep your copy of the Home Healthcare Guide with your medicines, so it’s easily available when you need it. Use the space at the back of the book to note key contact details you’re likely to need in an emergency.
- Keep the medicine chest in a secure, place, out of sight and reach of small children.
- Keep medicines in their original container.
- Always read the instructions and use the right dose.
- Don’t keep or use medicines past their sell-by date (your pharmacist will throw these away for you)
- Don’t share prescription medicines with others.
Reproduced under the terms of Click-Use Licence number C2009000382. The content of this page has been published under a Click-Use Licence (link this to http://www.opsi.gov.uk/click-use/index) which covers the use of core Crown copyright information. The original material can be found on NHS Choices.