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Medicines: Home Medicine Chest

This list of nonprescription drugs and supplies will be sufficient to relieve symptoms in the majority of acute illnesses that affect every family. Since these medicines will not shorten the course of the illnesses, give them only when symptoms are really bothering your child. Observe all label precautions.

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol): for fever or pain
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin): for pain or fever
  • Thermometers, rectal and oral types
  • Rubber suction bulb: for stuffy, blocked nose (after using saline or warm-water nose drops)
  • Butterscotch hard candies: for sore throat
  • Cough drops or corn syrup (as effective as expectorant cough syrups): for mild coughs
  • Humidifier: for coughs or croup
  • Antibiotic eyedrops: for bacterial eye infections with a yellow discharge. (Note: This is the only prescription item on this list.)
  • Cotton balls: for cleaning infected eyes
  • Sunscreen (cream and lip balm)
  • 1% hydrocortisone cream: for itchy skin conditions such as mosquito bites and poison ivy
  • Antibiotic ointment: for skin infections
  • Acetone (nail polish remover): for removing tape from the skin
  • Rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol): for sterilizing the skin or needles
  • Glucose-electrolyte solution (also called oral rehydration solution). If you have a child less than 1 year old, keep a bottle handy for severe vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Antihistamine medicine: for hives, hay fever, and eye allergies (optional for many families, but definitely needed if family members have allergies)
  • Gastrointestinal medicines: Vomiting and diarrhea respond best to dietary changes, and the numerous nonprescription medicines that are available are unnecessary or harmful. Acute constipation may occasionally require a stool softener (such as MiraLAX or Milk of Magnesia), but most children respond to increasing the fiber intake.
  • Tincture of time (the passage of time): cures the majority of mild illnesses.
  • TLC (tender loving care): makes the time pass more quickly.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-05-16
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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