Home Medical Chest

The Family Medicine Chest

Here is a list of useful medicines and dressings with a description of their uses. All are quite cheap and worth stocking at home in readiness for minor illnesses. Keep them in a box or cupboard with a lock – or store them well out of the reach of children.

  • Soluble Aspirin Tablets
    For adults and children over the age of 16. Good for headaches, colds, sore throats and painful bruises.
  • Paracetamol Mixture
    For relief of pain or fever in young children.
  • Sedative Cough Linctus
    For dry or painful coughs – but not coughs caused by common colds.
  • Menthol Crystals
    Add to hot water to make steam inhalations for treating catarrh and dry or painful coughs.
  • Vapour Rub
    Again, for steam inhalations. Also useful for children with stuffy noses or dry coughs. Rub on the chest and nose.
  • Antiseptic Solution
    One teaspoon diluted in warm water for cleaning cuts and grazes.
  • Calamine Lotion
    For dabbing (not rubbing) on insect bites, stings and sunburn.
  • Dressing Strips For minor cuts
    3″ Wide Crepe Bandage To keep dressings in place. To support sprained or bruised joints.
  • Cotton Wool
    For cleaning cuts and grazes.
  • Thermometer
    For fevers.
  • Tweezers
    For removing splinters. Remember that your local chemist can give you advice about medicines.

Insect Bites and Stings

Stings Antihistamine tablets can be obtained from the chemist without prescription and will usually relieve most symptoms.

Bee stings should be scraped away rather than ‘plucked’ in order to avoid squeezing the contents of the venom sac into the wound.

Head Lice

These creatures, contrary to popular belief, prefer clean hair and are, therefore, not a sign of poor personal hygiene.

Medicated head lotion can be obtained from the chemist without prescription.


On the first day a rash appears as small red patches about 3-4mm across. Within a few hours of these developing, small blisters appear in the centre of these patches.

During the next three or four days further patches will appear and the earlier ones will turn ‘crusty’ and fall off, Calamine lotion may be applied to soothe the often severe itching, cool baths may also help.

The most infectious period is from two or three days before the rash appears and up to five days after this date, children may return to school as soon as the last ‘crusts’ have dropped off.

German Measles (Rubella)

The rash appears during the first day and usually covers the body, arms and legs in small pink patches about 2-4mm across and doesn’t itch. No other symptoms are usually present apart from occasional aching joints.

It is infectious from two days before the rash appears, until the rash disappears in about four or five days from that date.

The only danger is to unborn babies and, therefore, it is important that all contacts are informed in order that anyone who may be pregnant can contact their doctor; immunisation can prevent this disease.


The rash is blotchy and red and appears on the face and body around the fourth day of illness.

It is at its most infectious from two or three days before the rash appears until eight or ten days after that date; immunisation can prevent this disease.


Symptoms are swelling of the gland in front of one ear often followed, after a couple of days, by swelling in front of the other ear.

It is infectious from two or three days before the swelling appears until eight or ten days after that date.

If the pain is severe you should consult your doctor. Immunisation can prevent this disease.


Gastroenteritis describes a group of diseases affecting the stomach or part of the intestine.

Symptoms are often diarrhoea, sickness and stomach ache.

Because the lining of the stomach is likely to be inflamed, medicines are often immediately vomited up, large quantities of water, orange juice or thin soup should be taken to counter the effects of dehydration.

Consult your doctor if symptoms persist for more than a day or, in the case of babies or young children, six hours.

Sudden bouts of unusually watery diarrhoea should be treated by taking the baby off solids and feeding them a cooled solution of boiled water with a teaspoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt to the pint.

If the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, or are accompanied by vomiting or weakness, consult your doctor.

Stomach ache

Most attacks are not serious and are usually caused by indigestion or wind.

A hot water bottle will often relieve the symptoms and, in the case of indigestion, a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in half a glass of water will help.

If the pain lasts for longer than eight hours or increases in intensity you should consult your doctor.


Treat with a cold compress, containing ice if possible, for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the swelling.

Then apply, firmly, a crepe bandage and give the sprain plenty of rest until all discomfort has subsided.

Further strain will inevitably lead to further swelling and a longer recovery period.


Sit in a chair, lean forward with your mouth open and pinch your nose just below the bone for approximately 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped. A

void hot drinks or hot food for 24 hours, if symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

Minor Injuries

Cuts And Grazes Wash the wound thoroughly with water and a little soap.

To stop bleeding apply a clean handkerchief or dressing firmly to the wound for about five minutes, cover with a clean dry dressing.

Sunburn Treat as for other burns with cold water to remove the heat, Calamine lotion will relieve the irritation whilst paracetamol will also help.

Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and great care should be taken to avoid overexposure to the harmful effects of the sun.