A first aid kit is on every “dorm essentials” list and we recommend packing your own for a college-bound kid rather than buying a pre-made one off the shelf. This list, from a pharmacist and mom, has everything, and we mean EVERYTHING, they’ll need.
The pharmacist in me made up a First Aid Kit and supply list for my son which I will put in a plastic box for him to take to the dorm. It seems like a ton of stuff, but our son will be 11 hours from home. I will also include a sheet of instructions of what to take/use for what ailment and how to do so safely.
Contents of a First Aid Kit and Health-Care Supplies*
Acetaminophen – fever/pain
Instant ice packs
Ice bag/reusable ice packs
Thermometer – Vick’s thermometer has a flexible tip version and seems to be more accurate than some other digital oral thermometers, and more durable. The forehead ones and the ear ones are not practical for college students.
Band aids in various sizes
Bacitracin or Neosporin
Antifungal cream and powder
Sterile gauze pads 2×2 and 4×4
Ace bandages in various sizes
70% rubbing alcohol
Chap Stick of some kind
Tiger balm patches for sore muscles (he is an athlete)
Artificial tears drop – Visene (gets the red out) has ingredients that are not indicated for long-term use and in some cases may not be appropriate at all. Artificial tears (Genteal, Systane, Blink, Refresh) are recommended by ophthalmologists for dry eyes, but also help for tired eyes as a soothing lubricant. styptic pencil for shaving nicks
Aloe vera gel
Styptic pencil for shaving nicks
Cough and Cold
I am not a fan of multi ingredient products as they are often combined with other products with same ingredients and can cause problems. I did list decongestant, expectorant, antihistamine, and pain relievers separately as the meds taken should only reflect the symptoms they have. Many of the combo products contain acetaminophen and are mistakenly taken along with more acetaminophen and can lead to liver toxicity and overdose.
Saline nasal spray
Pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine (Sudafed)
Guaifenesin (Mucinex, Robitussin)
wound wash saline
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Dramamine) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) or loratadine (Claritin, Alavert)
Tums or Maalox
Condoms (to avoid the need for the next item)
Plan B (sounds crazy but I sell a lot of it on Sunday mornings)
Uristat (urinary tract infections)
Other Important Reminders
- Copy of health insurance card in a Ziploc bag (He keeps the original in his wallet and I keep a copy at home.
- Copy of immunization records in a Ziploc bag (Even though the school has one, it’s not a bad idea for the student to keep a copy)
- Vitamin supplements are an individual choice as would melatonin or any kind of sleep aid.
- For Athletes: Any product you plan to ingest as a supplement or medication should be cleared by your trainers and coaches. The NCAA has very strict guidelines all participating athletes must follow.
- Depending on location in the country, an emergency survival kit might be in order (tornado, earthquake or flood prone areas). Other types of bad weather usually allow time to prepare (blizzard and hurricane come to mind) so they could assemble necessary items themselves.
Regarding RX drugs. I would advise parents to do research in advance as to the best course of action. State to state laws vary, so depending on the class of medication it may not be permissible to bring the prescription to school to be filled there. In that case the parent must get the prescription, fill it at home, and figure out the best way to send it securely and discreetly to the student. Another option is to get the local clinic at school to write the RX to fill locally. Again state law varies so check this all out well in advance. Remind students to keep all RX items secured and locked. They are often stolen if not secured. Another issue might be prescription insurance coverage varying if you leave your home state. I advise checking all the restrictions well ahead of time also.
Will You Be Able to Help Your College-Aged Child In a Medical Emergency? (Consumer Reports) – HIPPA authorization, medical power of attorney, durable power of attorney information and links to forms. (7/23/16)
Healthcare proxy, durable power of attorney: Two Documents Every 18-Year Old Should Sign (Forbes.com) (8/14/2014)
Vaccinations for college students: Ages 19-24 Vaccinations
Gretchen Elliott Sionkiewicz is a graduate of Salem State University class of 1990 with a B.S. Biology. She graduated from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences class of 1995 with a B.S. Pharmacy. She is a Registered Pharmacist in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1995-present, Certified Immunizer and Diabetes Educator.