Medicine cabinet must-haves: 9 essentials every household should have on hand

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What's in your medicine cabinet?

For aches, allergic reactions or even mild pain medical emergencydo you have the essentials?

Fox News Digital spoke with two experts – Dr. Jennifer Bourgeois, a pharmacist based in Dallas-Fort Worth, and Katy Dubinsky, a New York-based pharmacist and the CEO and co-founder of Vitalize, a private supplement company – who identified the most important basic medical supplies every household should have on hand .

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Here is a list of 9 important staples.

1. Painkillers

Just painkillers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol and naproxen are important for treating headaches, relieving sore muscles, reducing inflammation and lowering fever, according to Bourgeois.

Here are the nine most important basic medical supplies that every household should have on hand. (iStock)

“These are just medicine cabinet essentials,” she said.

2. Allergy medications

“Each allergy medication is designed to treat specific symptoms, so it's important to find the right over-the-counter medication to treat and relieve your symptoms. allergic symptoms', said Bourgeois.

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Antihistamines such as Claritin, Allebgra and Zyrtec can treat the symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, which causes sneezing and itching.

A decongestant such as Sudafed or Afrin nasal spray treats congestion or headaches.

3. Medicines for colds, coughs and flu

It is important to choose your over-the-counter cold medication carefully, based on the specific symptoms you're experiencing, Bourgeois says.

“For example, to combat a cough, you might want to take dextromethorphan (Delsym or Robitussin),” she said.

Jennifer Bourgeois

Dr. Jennifer Bourgeois, PharmD, is a pharmacy and healthcare expert based in Dallas-Fort Worth. (Jennifer Bourgeois/SingleCare)

“For aches, pains and fever, you can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Cough drops are also an important part of the medicine cabinet.”

Decongestants containing pseudoephedrine can help relieve nasal congestion, she noted.

“For medications containing pseudoephedrine, you must obtain them through the pharmacy because federal regulations require these medications to be stored behind the counter.”

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Combination medications can be helpful if you experience multiple symptoms, but it's important to pay attention to the ingredients to avoid duplication.

“Sometimes someone doesn't benefit from all the ingredients in a combination product,” Bourgeois said.

“Combination products often contain paracetamol or ibuprofen for pain relief, and it is important that the patient does not take additional painkillers in addition to the combination product.”

4. Digestive aids

Digestive aids may not be used regularly, Bourgeois said, but they are important in stomach-related times of need.

“Antacids for heartburn relief (Tums or Rolaids), anti-diarrheals (such as loperamide, i.e. Imodium), and laxatives (such as Dulcolax and Miralax) are must-haves for the medicine cabinet,” she said.

Stomach ache

Although digestive aids should not be used regularly, they are important during times of stomach problems, said a pharmacist. (iStock)

“Pepto-Bismol is a great solution for stomach problems as it can provide relief from heartburn, diarrhea and nausea.”

5. Topical treatments

Topical treatments such as hydrocortisone are important to have on hand in case you experience a rash or an insect bite, because they help reduce localized inflammation and itching, Bourgeois said.

“To help with dry, itchy skin or minor skin irritations, Aquaphor is a great product to have in your medicine cabinet as it helps hydrate the skin,” she added.

“And parents of babies and toddlers know that triple paste is a must-have for treating diaper rash and skin irritation.”

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Calamine lotion also helps soothe irritation from insect bites, rashes or chickenpox, according to Dubinsky.

“Antifungal creams such as Clotrimazole and Terbinafine are also useful for treating fungal infections such as athlete's foot, jock itch and ringworm,” she added.

6. First aid supplies

“The quick and easy version of this is to buy a first aid kit,” Bourgeois said.

Plaster on a finger

Experts recommend having a first aid kit at home and another in the car. (iStock)

For those who want to buy a la carte, she recommends getting adhesive bandages, large 4 x 4 inch gauze pads, a gauze roll, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment to prevent infection (such as Neosporin), compression bandages, a cold compress, hydrocortisone ointment (such as Cortisone 10), tweezers (for splinters and ticks) and a thermometer.

“I suggest keeping one of these kits in your home and another in your car,” Bourgeois said.

7. Sun safety and treatment

When select sunscreenBourgeois recommends choosing a broad-spectrum variety with an SPF of at least 30.

“Broad spectrum means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays,” she noted.

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Mineral-based sunscreens, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are considered safe and provide a physical barrier that reflects UV rays, Bourgeois said.

Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation before it penetrates the skin.

Woman squeezes sunscreen into hand

When selecting sunscreen, an expert recommends opting for a broad-spectrum variety with an SPF of at least 30. (iStock)

“If you've had too much sun exposure, I recommend applying a moisturizer that contains aloe vera to soothe the sunburn and relieve irritation,” Bourgeois said.

“In addition to aloe vera, a cold compress can also help reduce swelling and relieve any discomfort.”

8. Neti pot/saline rinse

Using a sinus rinse can help flush out allergens and mucus from the nasal passages, Bourgeois noted.

“Allergies increase mucus production as a mechanism to remove the allergens, but excessive mucus production can build up in the sinus cavities, creating an environment for viral and bacterial infections to thrive,” she warned.

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“Rinsing the nasal cavity can help reduce allergy symptoms and prevent possible infections.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a guide showing proper technique and best practices.

9. Eye drops

Eye drops like Visine and Systane are a must-have for hydrating dry eyes or relieving redness, according to Dubinsky.

Proper storage and disposal

When storing medications, it's important to keep them in a cool, dry place, away from heat and moisture, which can affect their effectiveness, Dubinsky said.

“Avoid keeping them in the bathroom, where humidity is typically high,” she told Fox News Digital.

Woman with eye drops

“Check expiry dates regularly and dispose of expired medicines safely,” one expert advised. “Expired medications can lose their potency or become harmful.” (iStock)

“Most medications should be stored at room temperature, between 20°C and 25°C,” Bourgeois noted.

Pharmacists recommend that you routinely check the expiration dates of your prescriptions and safely discard their expiration dates.

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“Expired medications can lose their potency or become harmful,” Bourgeois warned.

It's also important to keep medications in the original packaging so you have access to expiration dates, dosing instructions and other important information, she added.

“Although over-the-counter medications are safe and available for self-administration, it is best to consult a healthcare provider to determine if a product is right for you.”

When disposing of expired medications, follow local guidelines.

“Many pharmacies offer take-back programs for unused medications,” Bourgeois said.

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If there are children in the houseUse child-resistant containers and keep medications out of reach.

“Consider a locked cabinet if necessary,” Bourgeois advised.

medicine cabinet

If there are children in the house, use child-resistant containers and keep medications out of reach, experts advised. (iStock)

If you have questions about which medications are safe and effective, it's best to talk to your doctor, the experts agreed.

“Although over-the-counter medications are safe and available for self-administration, it is best to consult a doctor medical professional to determine whether a product is suitable for you,” says Bourgeois.

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“This is especially true if you have a chronic illness or are taking prescription medications, as there are some over-the-counter medications that may interact with your current prescription.”

When it comes to specific interactions and treatment indications, your pharmacist is a great resource, Bourgeois added.

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