What is a Medicine Chest?

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  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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A medicine chest is a container used to store medicines, first aid equipment, and emergency medical supplies. A medicine chest is sometimes referred to as a first aid kit or a medicine cabinet. Most families have medicine cabinets installed in bathrooms or kitchens, and may have a portable kit kept in a purse or automobile. Medicine and first aid kits should be kept in a location that is easy to access for all adult members of the household.

Most of the time, a medicine kit should contain items that help deal with fever. This could include thermometers and fever-reducing medications. Some of the more common medications for fever are aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. The medicine chest should include instructions on how to safely use these items.

First aid supplies are typically kept in a medicine chest. Some common first aid supplies are adhesive and gauze bandages, topical ointments for cuts and burns, and small scissors. They might also include iodine, hydrogen peroxide, or betadine, which can be used as disinfectants. A well-stocked medicine chest should also contain insect repellent and medications to treat insect bites.


Some other miscellaneous items that might be found in a first aid kit are tweezers, ointments for poison ivy and poison oak, and foot powder. Disposable gloves are also good to have on hand so that injuries can be treated without the fear of infecting a wound during treatment. Sterile pins or needles could also be helpful in removing small splinters or securing bandages.

A well-supplied medicine chest or first aid kit should include a first aid instruction book. First aid manuals offer assistance in treating wounds, burns, and insect bites. They also outline various life-saving techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

In many cases, lifestyle may play a big part in the type of medicine chest necessary for home and travel. For instance, people who enjoy hiking as a recreational activity may need snakebite kits, and those who enjoy swimming may need treatment for swimmers ear. Those who share their homes with animals may want to include medicines for treating parasites and ticks.

The health of family members also often dictates what may be needed in a medicine chest. For instance, if there is a family member with asthma, medical kits should contain backup inhalers or other medication needed to treat the condition. Allergy medications such as antihistamines should be kept on hand for family members who suffer from allergies.



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