Home Treatment-first Aid


THE average home medicine closet may be roughly divided into those articles which are regularly used and a second group which may be called the “accumulation of the ages.” The accumulation of the ages consists in such things as capsules in a pasteboard box which Dr. Lysander gave father for a peculiar attack of jaundice that he had about seven years ago.

The first thing to do in preparing a family medicine closet is to dear out all the débris that nobody is using regularly. Most of the liquid preparations have probably been decomposed and become inert by this time so they will not be much of a loss.

In recommending what should be in a medicine closet, people usually say that the poisons should be put on the top shelves and nothing but poisons should be put there. As a matter of fact, the best thing to do is not to have any poisons in the medicine closet at all. The only one that possibly might be permissible is lysol, and if you have a bottle of lysol it should be in a bottle with a rough outside. If not, put three bands of adhesive around the bottle so that you will be able to feel it as well as see it, and know immediately that you have hold of a bottle containing poison.

Adhesive plaster, sterile gauze, gauze bandages, absorbent cotton, vaseline, and tincture of iodine, should be kept in a box (a cigar box size) by themselves and labelled “Surgical emergency.”

Of drugs, there are only four classes which should be allowed in the medicine cupboard:

1. Cathartics.—Which cathartic you have is not particularly important except that no household where there are children should have a cathartic pill containing strychnine—the so-called A. S. & B. pills—aloin, strychnine and belladonna. Strychnine poisoning from the eating of these pills is the most common cause of death due to poisons in children in this country. Of the cathartics, I believe the best to have on hand is castor oil. It works, it is a thorough cleanser and its taste is so disagreeable that it is not likely to form a habit. For chronic use by all odds the best, in my opinion, is mineral oil or petrolatum.

2. Headache Tablets or Pain Killers.—There is probably nothing better than aspirin in five-grain tablets, although aspirin and phenacetin, two grains each, and one grain of caffeine citrate in a capsule or tablet make a somewhat more efficient remedy.

Bicarbonate of soda or milk of magnesia, or the combination in the form of bisodol and other similar preparations, may be handy in case there is some member of the family who suffers from add indigestion or gas.

3. Hypnotics or Sleeping Potions.—In the form of the barbiturates —veronal, medinal, alonal, amytal, etc. we have extremely efficient sleep-producers. They are doubtfully habit-forming and, in my experience, not habit-forming at all for 90 per cent of the population. For many people these are almost a necessity for those who lead a life under pressure. However, other people do not like the idea of having a sleep-producing drug, which might be habit-forming, in the house, and this opinion must be respected.

4. Ointments.—Some ointments for external use in case of irritation may be considered a part of the family medicine chest. Zinc oxide ointment and ammoniated mercury ointment are both official and should cover all requirements.