‘What every Mum Needs in her Medicine cabinet’ – I’ll be honest- my first thought was ‘gin, crisps and solitude’. Then I went to check my own medicine cabinet for inspiration and found: 3 impossibly tiny plasters left in the dregs of a packet, an industrial quantity of Calpol (other brands exist- it’s just my kids won’t touch them!) and some alcohol hand gel. So – clearly I need this blog as much as anyone.
Some safety notes- this guide is meant to be just that, a guide. Always consider your own family history and read the instructions on the packaging of any medicines. Do not keep or use out of date medicines. Your friendly neighbourhood pharmacist is a great source of advice on minor illness and injury– use them to save waiting to see your GP or using an unnecessary doctor’s appointment.
I’ll include a list of supplies but also some handy tips as I go along, I hope you find it helpful. I’m sure over time you will build up your own lists of family essentials. I strongly recommend getting some first aid training (many antenatal classes now offer this), it really can be lifesaving to know how to treat choking or allergy.
A lockable box. An obvious safety tip, always keep medicines out of sight and reach of children.
Thermometer – As a GP I can assess a child much more accurately and safely when a parent can tell me what their temperature has been over the preceding 2-3 days, not just that they’ve been ‘a bit hot’. The best ones are the in-ear digital versions, forehead strips are not as accurate, and old fashioned ‘mercury’ type thermometers take longer to get an accurate reading- every second counts with a grumpy one year old!
Contact numbers – GP, Out of hours GP or 111, Dentist, Emergency contacts for family/childcare. If you have specific medical requirements it’s a good idea to keep a summary of your medical history here too.
CPR and choking advice chart like this: print it and keep it with your medicines. https://qualsafe.com/PDFs/resus_chart.pdf
Alcohol Hand gel.
Ok, so what should be in the box?
Paracetamol and ibuprofen (Liquid versions for children). These are useful for pain relief in sore throats and ear infections or sprains and bumps, and for fever reduction. Avoid ibuprofen in children with chickenpox. Don’t use aspirin in children under 16 years old. Using pain relief daily long term for things like headache can actually prolong your symptoms, so this is a situation where you might need to take further advice.
Antihistamine liquid or tablets – great for hay-fever symptoms or itchy viral rashes. Not available over the counter under 2 years though.
Antihistamine cream – to soothe bites and stings.
Oral Rehydration Salts
Fever, diarrhoea and vomiting cause dehydration which can worsen the symptoms of the illness itself. ORS like dioralyte can help restore fluid balance and so relieve discomfort and tiredness, but they don’t fight the underlying cause of the illness. I should say I never found them that useful, however we did keep Ice pops to use when my boys were feverish and refusing to drink.
Indigestion treatment (like Gaviscon) – One for the grown-ups, not for the little ones though without GP advice first.
A NittyGritty Nit Comb – haven’t had nits yet? Oh, you will. And when you do you will first try inferior cheap nit combs before you realise this is the only brand that works…
Mebendazole worm tablets.- ‘fraid so folks, you will be needing these too, for the whole family. Probably not one to stock up on when your babies are little so they don’t go out of date, but by school years, my advice would be always keep a packet in the cupboard!
Vaseline – for sore lips and chapped skin.
Bicarbonate of Soda – for relief of itching in chickenpox- just dump a load in the bath! Far cheaper and more effective than calamine lotion and won’t stain your sheets pink!
Honey and Lemon – Sometimes the old ones are the best. There is no evidence that any cough linctus available on the market works any better than a teaspoon of honey in warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice or slice of ginger, so you can save your cash and feel all ‘earth-mothery’ into the bargain.
First Aid Kit
A cooling gel pack kept in the fridge for applying to bumps and bruises to soothe them. Don’t keep it in the freezer – if it is too cold it can burn the skin.
Soap and water to clean wounds– better than antiseptic cream which can in fact delay healing, otherwise clean and dry is best for wound healing.
Antiseptic wipes – if you can’t get to a tap!
Antiseptic cream – see above only use when the wound is looking wet or manky (technical term), although for some kids ‘magic cream’ is the only way to dry those tears.
Plasters – I swear by fabric plasters as they stay on better. My advice is buy big ones! And finger ones! And Compeed blister plasters.
Clingfilm for burns and scalds- just wrap it around after leaving the area under cold running water for 10 minutes first, to give you time to get to help if needed.
Tweezers- needle tipped – for splinters.
Dressings – an individually wrapped sanitary towel makes good sterile dressing covered with a bandage (sticky side out!), just wrap a gauze bandage around to hold it in place.
A gauze bandage.
A Guest Blog from Dr Sara Wood
Sara is GP near Stroud and spends her time juggling work and home life with 2 small boys. She loves family walks in the country and fun times with her #villagemumtribe to let her hair down, and is currently trying to persuade her husband they need to add chickens to their brood!