What to keep in your Medicine Cabinet

Dealing with minor illnesses, accidents or injuries at home.

Keep the following items in a locked cabinet or somewhere out of reach from children


Paracetamol (e.g liquid or tablet)

Paracetamol is a common painkiller for children. Sometimes its sold under the brand name Calpol, Panadol.  It's often used to treat headaches, stomach ache, earache, and cold symptoms. It can also be used to bring down a high temperature (fever). You can get more advice on giving your children paracetamol at Medicines for children.  Do not exceed the recommended dosage. 

Ibuprofen (e.g liquid or tablet)

Ibuprofen can be used to treat pain and inflammation (swelling) including cold symptoms, teething, toothache, sprains and strains, and reduces a high temperature. Sometimes its sold under the brand name Calprofen, Nurofen for children, Brufen. Please note that if your child has been diagnosed with Asthma, Ibuprofen may not be suitable, discuss this with your pharmacist or doctor first before using. You can get more advice on giving your children ibuprofen at Medicines for children. Do not exceed the recommended dosage. 

Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) Sachets

Although diarrhoea in children usually gets better on its own, it causes loss of water and salts. This may lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous, especially in very young children, because it is difficult to see the signs of dehydration. Oral rehydration salts do not treat the diarrhoea itself, but they replace the salts and water that are lost, and so reduce the effects of dehydration. Please follow the instructions on the sachet carefully.


Antihistamines are medicines often used to relieve symptoms of allergies, such as hay fever, hives, conjunctivitis and reactions to insect bites or stings. They're also sometimes used to prevent motion sickness and as a short-term treatment for insomnia. Most antihistamines can be bought from pharmacies and shops, but some are only available on prescription.

Local Pain Relief (for sore throat)

To help soothe a sore throat and reduce how long it lasts you can use medicated lozenges containing a local anaesthetic, antiseptic, or anti-inflammatory medicine, or anaesthetic spray.


A digital thermometer is best to use for a fast and accurate reading. A average temperature in babies and children is about 36.4C but this can vary from child to child. A high temperature is 38C or more. There is advice on how to take a child’s temperature on NHS.uk.

First Aid kit

It is useful to also have a well-prepared first aid kit to treat a whole range of minor ailments and injuries. A basic first aid kit can be bought over the counter, or you can create one yourself. A basic first aid kit may contain the following:

  • Plasters in a variety of different sizes and shapes
  • Small, medium and large sterile gauze dressings
  • At least two sterile eye dressings
  • Triangular bandages
  • Crêpe rolled bandages
  • Safety pins
  • Disposable sterile gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Alcohol-free cleansing wipes
  • Sticky tape
  • Thermometer (preferably a digital, ear thermometer)
  • Skin rash cream, such as hydrocortisone or calendula
  • Cream or spray to relieve insect bites and stings
  • Antiseptic cream Painkillers such as infant paracetamol for children, or infant ibuprofen
  • Children’s antihistamine
  • Distilled water for cleaning wounds
  • Eye wash and eye bath

Key Information

Never exceed the recommended doses for any medicine in any 24-hour period. Keep a diary of when you give each dose so that you do not give your child too much.  Check medicines and doses with your pharmacist and read the instructions carefully before giving to your child. If you are concerned that your child has exceeded the recommended daily dose you should seek medical advice.

Medicines should be checked regularly to make sure they are within their use-by dates. Keep out of reach of children.  Don’t give aspirin to children under 16 unless it’s prescribed by a doctor. These medicines above are all available over the counter from a pharmacist.

Remember, the pharmacy or supermarket own brands are cheaper and work just as well. If you are unsure, ask your pharmacist. 

Avoid ibuprofen if your child has asthma, unless advised otherwise by your GP.

You can get more advice on giving your child medicines at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust


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