in: Health, Health & Fitness

• Last updated: May 31, 2021

What Every Man Should Stock in His Medicine Cabinet

Stock of Medicine in a cabinet comic guide.

In few instances does the old maxim — “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it” — hold more true than when it comes to the items you stock in your medicine cabinet. When you do need some drug or balm, you’re invariably in the kind of exigency where you decidedly do not feel like getting into your car and driving to Walgreens. Ergo, it pays to keep your medicine cabinet well-stocked. Here’s what you should always have on hand (if you have kids, you’ll need the children’s versions of some of these items too):

  1. Calamine lotion. For alleviating bug bites you can’t stop itching.
  2. Muscle balm. Topical creams like Bengay temporarily soothe your muscle and joint aches. For longer-lasting (if less wintergreen-y) healing and relief, we’re big fans of stick-on heating pads
  3. Sunscreen. For preventing sunburn, natch. If you’re someone who routinely forgets to apply this cream, then you should keep on hand another: aloe vera.
  4. Box of Bandaids. Get ’em in a variety of sizes. They not only work to cover a wound, but their magical pain-relieving effect on children’s boo-boos has been “scientifically” proven. 
  5. Acetaminophen. It’s good to keep both acetaminophen (like Tylenol) and ibuprofen (like Advil) on hand for different uses. Acetaminophen may be better for treating headaches and arthritis. 
  6. Ibuprofen. Not only treats pain but reduces swelling and inflammation. May be better for fever, sinusitis, backache, muscle soreness, and earaches. 
  7. Antibiotic ointment. Helps prevent infection in minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. I like the ones which also include a pain reliever. 
  8. Indigestion relief. Remedies like Pepto-Bismol or Imodium A-D can be clutch when a meal goes south.
  9. Daytime/nighttime cold medicine. Sometimes I reach for Dayquil/Nyquil, but its artificial color and high fructose corn syrup (almost 100 calories in a serving!) is a turn-off, so that I’m a bigger fan of Alka-Seltzer. The “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” assuredly creates a nice placebo effect in signaling that relief is on its way. If you’ve got sinus problems, you may need a medicine specifically targeted to those issues.
  10. Allergy medicine. For treating allergies, a non-drowsy, 24-hour antihistamine like Claritin, Zyrtec, etc. is probably your best bet. My doctor says that each of the varieties in this category only work for a fraction of people, so keep experimenting ‘til you find one that’s effective for you (try out nasal sprays too). Also keep some Benadryl on hand for unexpected allergic reactions, and, let’s be honest, for knocking yourself out for bed now and again.
  11. Canker sore medicine. Especially handy if you have kids, who tend to treat canker sores like painful, flesh-eating boils in need of urgent numbification. 
  12. Hydrogen peroxide. People tend to poo-poo using hydrogen peroxide these days as it can damage skin tissue a bit, and yes, the best way to clean a wound is with soap and running water, but when you have something like a skinned knee on your hands, cleaning it with soap and water isn’t that easy. Swab it with a little hydrogen peroxide, put on some antibiotic ointment, cover with a bandaid, and, in my decidedly non-medical opinion, you’re good to go.
  13. Rubbing alcohol. Murder on an open wound but handy for sanitizing your tweezers and such.
  14. Cough drops. Soothing for sore and scratchy throats, and a nice palate refresher. 
  15. Tweezers. For removing splinters and much more.
  16. Thermometer. If you’ve got squirrelly, squirmy kids, definitely go with the forehead variety.

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