5 Must-Have Remedies for Your First Aid Kit

As kids head to school, they'll be contending with the inevitable bumps, bruises, and colds that come with being in close proximity to other children on the playground and in the classroom. Since arguing with your husband about who has to run to the drugstore in their PJs at 1 a.m. is no fun at all, it's a good idea to have a stock of remedies on hand before the most common ouchies strike. Here's a rundown of commercial and natural treatments you need for your home first aid kit:

Cuts and scrapes

Commercial: Antibiotic ointment

Natural: Tea tree oil

As soon as you can, clean the cut to prevent infection. You can find little packs of antibiotic ointment that fit nicely inside a purse or diaper bag. Tea tree oil is said to be a great antiseptic, although as with most natural products, the clinical evidence for those claims is spotty. But it's unlikely to cause harm and if it works for you, why not?



Commercial: Naproxen or ibuprofen

Natural: Aloe

Burns bigger than the size of the person's palm, those with blisters (in children), or those that involve more than the top few layers of the skin need medical attention. But minor sunburns or small burns can be soothed with an application of aloe to the affected area. If that's not doing the trick, an anti-inflammatory pain reliever like naproxen or ibuprofen will do.

Bug bites and stings

Commercial: Calamine lotion with pain relief or cortisone cream

Natural: Baking soda and vinegar paste or witch hazel

For bee stings, applying a paste of baking soda and vinegar can soothe the pain and swelling (and you're likely to have these on hand anyway). For mosquito bites, I have found a one-two punch of witch hazel and anti-itch cortisone cream works best. Witch hazel has strong anti-inflammatory properties and the cortisone cream helps treat the reaction from the mosquito saliva (did you know that's what causes the bump and the itch?).

Upset tummy

Commercial: Depends on the cause (nausea, gas, diarrhea)

Natural: Chamomile tea

There are plenty of commercial remedies out there to treat various stomach woes, but the best course is often to let the body get rid of whatever is ailing it (just make sure to keep your child hydrated). Chamomile tea can soothe an upset tummy and is gentle enough for even very young children to use. Plus it's warm and comforting and can help make them sleepy -- all of which helps when they're feeling awful.

Colds and cough

Commercial: Saline nasal spray and cough medicine (for children over 4 and only if OK'd by your doctor)

Natural: Honey (in children over 2)

There's a been a lot of concern over the use of cough medicines in children, and some studies have shown honey is just as effective at easing coughs as pharmaceutical medicines. It's believed to have antibiotic properties, and it can't hurt even it doesn't help all that much. Your average kid is going to be a lot more enthused about a tablespoon of honey than about a spoonful of strange-tasting medicine.

What are your favorite home remedies?


Image via veggiefrog/Flickr

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