Medicine cabinet must-haves

A woman comforts her ill child while while she rests

What do you keep in your medicine cabinet?

If you’re lucky, you hardly need to think about it. But when you’re hurt or not feeling well, having a designated space with the items you need can get you on the road to recovery quicker.

Below are some suggestions to help treat common illnesses and injuries. Many of these items can be found in a basic first aid kit, which is a cost-effective way to begin filling your space. We’ve also included some tips on safe medication storage.

For injuries like cuts, scrapes, and minor burns

  • Adhesive bandages for smaller injuries
  • Gauze pads and medical tape, to make bandages of any size
  • Butterfly bandages and liquid bandage, to help close cuts
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Antibiotic ointment, to protect and moisten closed wounds or minor burns
  • Tweezers and a magnifying glass, for removing ticks or splinters
  • Cotton balls and cotton swabs
  • Medical exam gloves

For cold and flu symptoms

  • Thermometer
  • Throat lozenges or cough drops
  • COVID-specific supplies:

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out what over-the-counter cold and flu medications are right for you, given your medical history and any other medications you’re taking.

For digestive issues like heartburn, upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting

  • For accidental poisoning:
    • Activated charcoal
    • Save the number for poison control in your phone (800-222-1222). It’s also a good idea to keep it on a piece of paper with the activated charcoal.
  • Pedialyte, which can help prevent dehydration, especially for small children

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out what over-the-counter medications are right for you, given your medical history and any other medications you’re taking.

For allergy symptoms like watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, or itching

(Note: Do not give antihistamines or decongestants to children under 2 years old without being advised by a physician.)

  • Medications to stop runny nose and sneezing:
    • Claritin (loratadine) should not cause the drowsiness that other allergy medications do
  • Saline nasal spray to help thin mucus, moisten nasal passages, and lessen inflammation of mucous membranes
  • Eye drops with an antihistamine and a decongestant
  • Calamine lotion, which stops itching and dries up weepy rashes like from poison ivy
  • Creams, ointments, or sprays containing an antihistamine or hydrocortisone, for itching from bug bites, rashes, and other skin irritation

For mouth pain

(Note: Do not give benzocaine or lidocaine viscous to children under 2 years old without being advised by a physician.)

  • Benzocaine or lidocaine gels or rinses for toothaches, gum pain, teething pain, canker sores, and cold sores
  • Dental repair kit with dental cement for temporarily replacing a lost filling or crown

Keep enough of your prescription medications on hand

Emergency situations can make it difficult to run to the pharmacy if you run out of a prescription medication you need. That’s why it’s a smart idea to keep enough of your medication on hand at all times.

Express Scripts® Pharmacy offers 90-day supplies and automatic refills so you don’t have to worry about running out suddenly. We’ll also remind you when it’s time for a new prescription.

Tips for keeping your medicine cabinet safe and up to date

  1. Check dates. Since medication degrades over time, get rid of items that are past their expiration date. Dispose of unused medications safely. You can search for a safe disposal location using this tool. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist.
  2. View your medication storage through fresh eyes. Keep opioids or other medications that can be abused out of sight and preferably locked up. Make sure small children can’t access medications. Store each person’s prescriptions separately, so no one takes the wrong one by mistake.
  3. Store prescriptions properly. Most need to be stored in a cool, dry place. If your medicine cabinet is in a bathroom, your medications may be exposed to too much humidity. Read prescription labels carefully, to keep your medications safe and effective.

Don’t forget about your healthcare spending accounts

Most of the items we’ve listed above are considered qualified medical expenses by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). That means you can use the funds in your healthcare spending accounts to pay for them. If you have a health reimbursement account (HRA) or flexible spending account (FSA), stocking your medicine cabinet is an easy way to use any money left in your account before the end of the year.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist
If you have questions about the over-the-counter products and supplies you should keep on hand, ask your doctor or pharmacist. They can help you choose medications that are safe for you to take based on your health, age, and current prescriptions.

If you have questions about how to store any of your medications or what products are safe for you, give us a call. Our pharmacists are here to help you 24/7.

Posted date: November 14, 2022

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