Library Blog

Stocking Your Medicine Cabinet

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Isn’t it just when you need bandage that you discover you do not have one?  And no soothing ointment when you have a sunburn?  And, isn’t it after you are stung by a bee that you realize you do not have any Benadryl?  Your medicine cabinet, whether it is the usual behind the mirror in the bathroom or a drawer in the kitchen needs to have a few basic items in it.   Some might even save a life!  Follow this checklist to create your own well stocked medicine cabinet.  You will appreciate it later! 


Thermometer:  You can buy a glass one or a digital one.  The glass one will never need a battery change, but the digital is easier to read. 

Face mask:  Just in case you need to go to a medical center, it is good to have your own. 

Hand sanitizer:  Alcohol based, at least 60%. 

Latex gloves:  You just never know when something will occur you wish you had gloves to clean it up with. 

Adhesive bandages:  You can get a nice assortment of sizes in a box of generic, even some with lotion built right in. 

Tweezers:  These may be necessary for removing a splinter or a tick.  Be sure to get directions on how best to do this. Removing a Tick 

Cotton swabs:  These are not supposed to go in your ear!  Use them instead to clean wounds, apply topical medications and other delicate needs. 

Activated charcoal:  Especially when a home has young children, this will induce vomiting when needed after ingestion of a poison.  First- call 911 or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.  Having the charcoal will speed the process when it is called for.   


A few of these medications can save you from needing to make a run to the store when you really do not want to be making a run to the store!  Please be careful about reading the directions for dosing, keep out of reach of children, and make it a New Year’s Resolution to check the expiration dates every year and replace anything that is out of date. 

Cough syrup:  These can help you stop coughing and start sleeping. 

Acetaminophen:  Tylenol is a brand name, but the generic is very inexpensive.  This will help with muscle aches and pains, headaches and to reduce fevers. 

Ibuprofen:  Motrin and Advil are the common brand names.  It is the best for dental or muscle pain or swelling as it is an anti-inflammatory.   

Antidiarrheals:  KayopectateImmodium or Pepto-Bismol are brand names, but generic exist for both.  While hydration is important, having the medication helps as well. 

Antihistamine:  Whether it is from seasonal allergies, food allergies or a bee sting, having a generic type such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) will be important.  There are non-drowsy formulations, should you need them.   

Calamine lotion:  When you spend time outside in the summer, this is a balm that soothes poison ivy and other itch causing plants.   

Hydrocortisone cream:  For more intense itching, this steroid will also reduce inflammation.  Look for a 1% generic cream to help with bug bites and mild rashes. 

Aloe lotion:  Another soothing skin product, aloe feels great on a burn or after too much sun. 

Decongestant:  When you have a cold or the flu, often a primary symptom is a stuffy nose.  Sometimes you can get this with a cough suppressant and pain/fever reducer as well.  Be careful not to overdose by mixing medications with the same ingredients!  Both pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are inexpensive decongestants. 

Antibiotic ointment:  Neosporin and Bacitracin are a top picks, and available in a generic forms.  There is no burning on application and keeps the wound moist so that it heals with less scarring.   

Antiseptic:  An inexpensive 3% hydrogen peroxide bottle will perfect for cleaning a fresh cut to ward off infection.  It is also good at cleaning blood out of clothing and will foam as it works.   

Sunscreen:  Nothing can ruin a day out faster than a sunburn.  Look for something with an SPF of at least 15 and keep a bottle in handy locations to make it easy to remember.  Here are the Center for Disease Control prevention guidelines. 

If you do not have everything on this list, do not panic- you can spread it out over a few paychecks.  Choose a few each time that you are most likely to need.  Also, you can consider these items as a great basket to give as a housewarming gift for someone setting out in a new home, or even given as a wedding/shower gift prettily arranged with other toiletries.   


Check out our Library and Hoopla collections for First Aid books and additional information: 

First Aid Manual 

First Aid for Families 

Johnson’s First Aid Manual 

Badxxx Prepper’s Handbook