The 13 Things to Have in your medicine cabinet

A friend called me last night with a question about a skin rash. I made a couple of treatment suggestions, and she didn’t have any of it on hand, which meant she had to go to the drug store with a rash on her face. There are certain things every medicine cabinet should have on hand. Check yours and stock up. Better to have and not need than need and not have. When you are under the weather, having to run to the store can feel like an enormous chore. If you have young children, make sure you have the following in doses and formulations appropriate for them.

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Benadryl
  • Hydrocortisone Cream (1%)
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Mucinex (my favorite) or any decongestant
  • Neosporin
  • Bandaids
  • Gauze
  • An ace bandage
  • Sharp tweezers
  • A magnifying glass
  • A Working Thermometer
  • (If you are prone to UTIs, keep Azo around.)

Some of these will expire, so check your cabinet every year to make sure everything is up to date. The only thing worse than not having what you need, is thinking you do, and then finding out it expired in 2015 (been there.)

**Side parenting note, as soon as your child is old enough, get them swallowing pills. Liquids taste awful, they spill, they can be inaccurate in dosing, and somehow they always feel like a fight or a punishment. My kids started being able to take the small round Advil when they were pretty young, about 5 or 6. As soon as they are 48 lbs, they can take one 100mg ibuprofen. When they are 96 lbs they can (and should) take two. Boys average about 50lbs between 6 and 7 years old. Girls average about 50lbs closer to 7 years old. Some medicines aren’t too terrible, but if they need an antibiotic (which are awful smelling and tasting) you and they will be so happy to ask your doc for the pill form. Plus, if you need something on the go, someone always has an Advil or a Tylenol.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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