Bathroom Medicine Cabinet Essentials

By Matthew Cenzon. May 7th 2016

Almost every home features a handy little storage compartment in the bathroom known as a medicine cabinet. While it's important to seek medical attention for serious health issues, the bathroom medicine cabinet can be looked at as your very own medical care center, with various forms of medication to treat common injuries or sickness within the household. This article will provide you with an essential list and tips for keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet in your home.

Treatments For Cuts, Scrapes, Burns And Wounds

One of the most common injuries that any household will deal with are small cuts, scrapes, burns and wounds. This is why stocking your bathroom medicine cabinet with plenty of bandages and antiseptic is a top priority.

From a paper cut to a burn from the kitchen stove, these items are necessary for dealing with minor skin trauma. Ointments, gauze and medical tape can also be stored in the medicine cabinet for more serious forms of skin trauma as temporary treatment while professional medical attention is sought.

Here is a checklist for these types of injuries:

  • Bandages of various sizes
  • Antiseptic for cleaning a wound
  • Rubbing alcohol (also for cleaning)
  • Medical tape
  • Gauze
  • Small scissors
  • Ointment

Headaches, Fevers And Pain Relievers

The next essential group of items that every medicine cabinet should have are used for treating headaches, fevers and medication for temporary pain relief. Such items range from non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Headaches and minor aches and pain are one of the most common ailments that people deal with in the typical household, and having the proper, over-the-counter medication (OTC) is important for relief. For fevers, it is also important to have a working thermometer to check for temperature.

(For more information on purchasing a thermometer, read The Different Types Of Thermometers And How To Use Them.)

Here is a checklist for these types of ailments:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin)
  • Aspirin
  • Other NSAIDs
  • Thermometer

Cold, Flu And Allergy

Since cold, flu and allergy symptoms tend to overlap, many OTC medications purchased from the drug store can be used for treatment and relief. For coughing, cough syrup or gel caps and cough drops should be kept in the bathroom medicine cabinet. For dealing with sneezing or a stuffy nose, decongestants, like Sudafed, should be stocked and replenished as needed. Antihistamines (Benadryl) are also a medicine cabinet essential for dealing with allergies, watery eyes, a stuffy nose and sneezing. In cases where an allergic reaction can be life threatening, such as difficulty breathing or swallowing, immediate medical attention is needed.

Here is a medicine cabinet checklist for cold, flu and allergies:

  • Cough medicine (syrup, gel caps and cough drops)
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Common cold and flu OTC medicine like Nyquil

Bug Bites, Itching And Rashes

A skin reaction that causes itching or redness is another common ailment in the household that requires the proper medication to be stored within the medicine cabinet. Hydrocortisone, antihistamine and calamine lotion can all be used for these types of skin ailments. Rubbing alcohol, anti-itch cream and ice-packs to reduce swelling should also be kept in the medicine cabinet.

Here is a checklist for these skin ailments:

  • Hydrocortisone
  • Antihistamine
  • Calamine lotion
  • Ice pack
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Rubbing alcohol

Upset Stomach, Diarrhea And Constipation

Dealing with stomach issues can be a very common occurrence in the household, which is why you should reserve a shelf in your bathroom medicine cabinet for medication that can help treat and alleviate discomfort form such ailments. For diarrhea, OTC attapulgite and loperamide can be purchased in the form of Kaopectate and Immodium A-D. A simple laxative like Ex-lax can help with constipation and bismuth subsalicylate in the form of Pepto-Bismol can be kept for dealing with an upset stomach.

Here is a checklist for dealing with issues in the gastrointestinal tract:

  • Attapulgite (Kaopectate)
  • Loperamide (Immodium A-D)
  • Laxatives
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)
  • Simethicone (Gas-X) for gas and bloating

Other Bathroom Medicine Cabinet Essentials

Aside from the treatments and OTC medications for the common injuries and ailments listed above, there are other items that every bathroom medicine cabinet should have:

  • Sunscreen
  • Eye drops
  • Sleep medication
  • Any prescription medication
  • Dental floss
  • Lip balm
  • Cotton balls
  • Ice-packs and heat packs
  • Personal hygiene products like deodorant
  • Moisturizing lotion

Important Medicine Cabinet Tips

Here are some useful tips for keeping a safe, well-stocked medicine cabinet for you and your family:

  • Regularly check containers to ensure you have a constant supply of necessary medications.
  • While it can help ensure the full potency of certain medications, virtually all forms of medicine can be safely used after the expiration date.
  • Find a child safety lock to keep small children from finding their way into the medicine cabinet.
  • Always read the labels to ensure you are using the appropriate dosage.
  • Keep your bathroom medicine cabinet clean and well-organized.
  • Be aware that OTC medication can be abused and can be just as dangerous or addictive as illicit drugs.

Keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet can greatly benefit your family for minor injuries and health issues, and can provide temporary treatment before seeking professional medical attention.


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