What to keep in your medicine cabinet

A well-stocked medicine drawer or cabinet is a useful addition to any household, both for peace of mind and practical reasons: if you’ve got a killer headache the last thing you want to do is head out to a brightly lit shop for painkillers.

Keep everything in your medicine cabinet in date and in its original packaging. Make sure the cabinet is at room temperature and not accessible by children or pets.

What you should store in the cabinet will depend on your own personal health issues and lifestyle, but there are a few essentials:

Pain relief

Painkillers such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen all work for pain and fevers, but ibuprofen can also help to reduce inflammation from sporting strains or arthritis. It is worth noting that aspirin should never be given to those under 16 and ibuprofen should be used with caution by those over 65. Pain relief can come in a cream form which is useful for sporting injuries or arthritic joints.

Stomach health

A bout of food poisoning or a stomach bug is never pleasant, but you can help your body to recover more quickly with oral rehydration salts. These come in different flavours and when mixed with water replenish your body’s vital electrolytes, helping it to rehydrate. Anti-diarrhoea tablets are also useful to stop symptoms for a few hours – although they don’t treat the causes. And for anyone who has ever suffered from indigestion or heartburn, having antacid in the cupboard can relieve the discomfort in minutes.

For the sun

Essential for the summer months is a sunscreen of at least factor 30. Suncreams do lose their efficacy over time so check expiry dates each year. Alternatively, if the cream has changed in consistency or smell, it’s no longer any good. It can be worth backing this up with an after sun lotion to relieve pain if anyone does get burnt.


An anti-histamine cream can provide immediate relief for bites, such as from mosquitoes. Anti-histamine in tablet form is also useful for those who get hit by bouts of hay fever. Make sure to read the packet, though, as some brands cause drowsiness.

Cuts and bruises

A typical first-aid pack generally includes plasters and bandages but should always have antiseptic wipes, antiseptic cream and steri-strips to pull the edges of larger wounds back together. Tweezers are also useful for splinters.

Children’s health

If there are children in the house, or grandchildren visiting, you need to meet their needs too. Top of the list is a thermometer – digital ear thermometers are the most accurate. Children also need their own painkiller at an appropriate dosage. It can also be helpful to have a store of head-lice treatment – you never know when the critters will strike and it’s best to get on top of them straight away.

* With all medicines, always read the label, and if you are pregnant, taking other medication or suffer from pre-existing conditions, you should consult a doctor before taking anything new.