Just 35 Items to Create the Perfect College First Aid Kit

Sending our kids off to college is both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. We want them to experience “the BEST years of their life” (no pressure, right?) while doing all the fun things we did…or perhaps the things we missed out on. We never want to see them hurt physically or emotionally, but the truth is they WILL stumble- whether it’s a bad grade, a bike accident, food poisoning, mono, insomnia, or heartbreak. Ultimately, it’s not the stumbling we fear, but how and when they get back on track. One last gift you can offer is a fully loaded COLLEGE FIRST AID KIT that will help your student help themselves. Jill Grimes, MD, a family physician who has worked extensively on a college campus (and a mom of two college kids) offers her list of what students really need at their fingertips:


Include a copy of their health insurance card & their shot record-but also have them take a picture on their phones and “favorite” it!

1. Thermometer (Ideally a “no-touch” one)

2. Pulse Oximeter (VERY helpful to get accurate pulse and oxygen levels)

3. Band-Aids (include Blister, Knuckle and Fingertip)

4. Antiseptic Cleanser (like Neosporin Wound Cleanser Foaming Liquid)

5. Tweezers

6. Cuticle scissors

7. Ace Wraps (Get 2-these disappear quickly!)

8. Refillable Ice Pack (old-school style that you fill with ice)

9. “Baby” Bulb Syringe (to safely remove/flush out ear wax)

10. Artificial Tears (like Blink or Systane- NO “get the red out” ones)

11. Extra toothbrushes (for use & disposal after cold symptoms)

12. Disposable medical masks (for them or their coughing roommate!)

Allergy Medications:
13. Non-sedating Antihistamine: Fexofenadine (Allegra) or Loratadine (Claritin) or Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
14. Sedating Antihistamine: Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)- primarily useful short-term for insomnia
15. Nasal Steroid: Fluticasone Propionate (Flonase) or Triamcinolone Acetonide (Nasacort)

Cough/Cold Medications:
16. Decongestant: Phenylephrine (Sudafed)
17. Expectorant: Guaifenesin (Mucinex)
18. Cough Suppressant: Dextromethorphan (DM) Liquid or capsules (Delsym or any expectorant with “DM” added)
19. Cough drops
20. Combo product liquid or capsule “night-time cough reliever” (like Nyquil)
21. Zinc lozenges (Cold-Eeze)

Oral Pain/Fever Relievers
22. Ibuprofen (Advil)
23. Naproxen (Aleve)
24. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
25. Aspirin
26. Excedrin or Bayer Migraine: Combines acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine

Topical Medications:
27. 1 % Hydrocortisone Cream (like Cortaid)
28. Triple Antibiotic Ointment (with or without pain reliever)
29. Aloe and Lidocaine gel (like Solarcaine)
30. Menthol or anesthetic topical pain reliever cream or patch: (like Icy Hot cream and Salonpas patches)

Stomach Medications:
31. Antacid tablets: TUMS (“Chewy Bites” or smooth dissolve)
32. H2 Blockers: cimetidine (Tagamet HB) or famotidine  (Pepcid AC)
33. PPI: omeprazole (Prilosec) or lansoprazole (Prevacid)
34. Loperamide (Imodium)

Rehydration Powders:
35. Pedialyte/Liquid IV/electrolyte powder packets (possibly the most important item! Critical treatment for dehydration of ANY sort, from hangovers to flu or food poisoning!)

Not sure when to use what? Call your university’s student health services, consult a reputable online source like WebMD, or look in The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness.

Jill Grimes, MD, is a nationally recognized medical media expert, award-winning author, proud parent of two collegiate daughters, and also an associate member of the AHEPPP. Dr. Grimes is looking forward to working with our members!

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