What kind of medicines and other health products should you keep on hand to treat minor ailments or injuries? More importantly, where's the best place in the house to keep them? Here's what doctors, nurses and pharmacists at FDA recommend:

Must-Have's for Home Medical Care


  • Analgesic (relieves pain)
  • Antibiotic ointment (reduces risk of infection)
  • Antacid (relieves upset stomach)
  • Antihistamine (relieves allergy symptoms)
  • Syrup of ipecac (induces vomiting)
  • Decongestant (relieves stuffy nose and other cold symptoms)
  • Fever reducer (adult and child)
  • Hydrocortisone (relieves itching and inflammation)
  • Antiseptic (helps stop infection)

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Medicine Cabinet

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Adhesive tape
  • Gauze pads
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Calibrated measuring spoon
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Disinfectant

Contrary to age-old tradition, a bathroom medicine cabinet is not a good place to keep OTC (over-the-counter or nonprescription) or prescription medications. Showers and baths create heat and humidity that can cause some drugs to deteriorate rapidly. A cool, dark and dry place such as the top of a linen closet, preferably in a locked container and out of a child's reach, is best for storing medicines.

  • Clean out your bathroom medicine cabinet and the area where you store medicines at least once a year.
  • Discard outdated products, damaged containers, and old supplies.
  • Restock supplies that are low or missing.
  • Keep all items in their original containers so that no one takes the wrong one.

Taking these measures can't prevent illness or accidents, but they can help you be prepared to treat such minor emergencies promptly and effectively.

FDA / FDA Consumer