22 Things That Belong in Your Well-Stocked Medicine Cabinet

You’ll Be Prepared for Life’s Ailments With These 22 Medicine Cabinet Essentials

A half-empty bottle of ibuprofen and a handful of Band-aids do not count as a fully stocked medicine cabinet. Are you prepared for life’s bumps and bruises? Cramps and cuts? Pimples and splinters? Whether your medicine cabinet is a literal cabinet, a closet shelf, or just a tote, here’s what it should contain just in case.

Cold Medicine

It is called the common cold for a reason. You’re bound to catch one at some point, so prepare beforehand. You’ll avoid having to make a pharmacy run when you’re feeling down by stocking up on decongestants, cough drops, and cold medicine now.

Hydrogen Peroxide

The large brown bottle in the back of the cupboard is a fixture, as well it might be. The telltale fizzle of the antiseptic is reassuring in all of its germ-killing simplicity. If you’re not down with H2O2’s cleansing sting, keep an antibiotic ointment on hand instead.


There is no better tool for removing splinters, ticks, and an errant eyebrow hair.

Acne Treatment

Speaking of blemishes, get ahead of your breakouts by keeping personalized acne treatment on hand. This may take the form of oral antibiotics, retinoids, spironolactone, and/or birth control pills. Your healthcare provider will help you identify the best combination for your acne-fighting needs.


Go ahead, splurge on the variety pack, which can cover everything from a paper cut to a skinned knee. They even come in different skin tones now, which can be particularly helpful when you have a blemish in a noticeable spot.


It is always a good idea to be prepared for moments of passion. Keep in mind that condoms have an average shelf life of three to five years.

Tampons and Pads

For women, this is a pretty obvious one. But for men, nothing says “thoughtful” like keeping a stash of these necessities on hand for your menstruating friends.

Pulse Oximeter

This little device reads your blood oxygen levels. It became a must-have when COVID-19 entered the scene.


The “kiss test” is all well and good, but to really determine whether you have a fever, you’ll need a thermometer. Try to find one that both children and adults alike can easily use. A temporal artery thermometer gives accurate readings from a contactless scan of the forehead.

Pain and Fever Relievers

When your head is throbbing or you’re burning up, reach for an analgesic. Your choices include aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen, among others. Be sure to read the labels regarding recommended dosages, though. Taking too much acetaminophen can harm your liver.

Nausea Medication

If you’re feeling queasy, you’ll want fast relief. Pepto Bismol is an old standby, but you can also tap the nausea-zapping powers of ginger. The Ginger People offer it in the form of chews, hard candy, tablets, and juices.

Anti-Diarrheal Medication

Nothing ruins your day quite like diarrhea. Whether it’s caused by food poisoning or inflammatory bowel disease, an anti-diarrheal like Imodium can save the day. As with all medications, keep an eye on the expiration date.

Heartburn Medication

The last of the stomach-soothing medications you should keep on hand is an antacid. Tums, Alka-Seltzer, Pepcid, and Prilosec all work slightly differently, so read the labels.

Allergy Medication

These meds can take several different forms, depending on what you are allergic to and the nature of your reaction. Stock up on what works best for you. An antihistamine like Benadryl or Zyrtec is a solid choice. Depending on your symptoms, you may need a tablet, lotion, or liquid.


Wearing sunscreen as a part of your daily routine is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer. Plus, it will help keep your skin looking young. Even an SPF as low as 15 can have benefits. And just like medications, sunscreen can expire. If you’ve had a bottle in the back of the closet since your trip to Cancun five years ago, it’s probably time to toss it.

Aloe Vera Gel

If you stayed out in the sun past your sunscreen’s limits, you’re probably feeling the burn. Reach for a tube of aloe vera gel, which can soothe that sunburn and numerous other skin irritations.  Skip the fancy skin-soothing lotions that include lidocaine or menthol and stick with 100% aloe vera.

Hydrocortisone Cream or Calamine Lotion

If you’re prone to rashes and eczema, you might group this with your sunscreen and aloe vera gel in a section for skin-related ailments.

Heating Pad and an Ice Pack

A change of temperature is a typical treatment rec when you experience a muscle strain or sprain. You can buy disposable heating pads or invest in an electric one. Ice packs may be kept in the freezer, or you can use instant cold packs.

Cotton Swabs and Cotton Balls

From removing makeup to dabbing antiseptic on a scraped elbow, cotton swabs and balls are a must. Some people prefer cotton pads instead of balls.

Eye Drops

Your work is on the computer, your entertainment is on your TV, and your communication is via your smartphone. With all that screen time, your eyes can get tired really quickly. Whether screen use, airborne irritants, or just plain fatigue is responsible for your sore eyes, nothing feels better than some high-quality eye drops.

Eyeglass Repair Kit

Speaking of eye health, keep one of those cheap eyeglass repair kits on hand. If you depend on prescription glasses for your eyesight, you know the importance of a very tiny screw. You can pick a kit up at your pharmacy or often in the checkout aisle of your local grocery store.

Sleeping Aid

There are some nights when sleep is elusive. For those occasions, stock a non-habit-forming sleep aid like melatonin. Melatonin can even be safe for kids and is available as tablets or gummies.

While some of these items may not be things you use regularly, it is worth stocking up on them anyway. You never know what life will bring!

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