How to Put Together the Most Complete First Aid Kit For Your Teen

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. From a pharmacist and mom, this list has everything they’ll need, and we mean EVERYTHING.

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 instructions on what to take/use for what ailment and how to do so safely.

College first aid kit and other healthcare supplies

First Aid

Acetaminophen — fever/pain
Instant ice packs
Ice bags/reusable ice packs
Thermometer — an oral digital thermometer is better than a forehead or ear for college students.
Band-aids in various sizes
Bacitracin or Neosporin
Hydrocortisone cream
Antifungal cream and powder
Rolled gauze
Sterile gauze pads 2×2 and 4×4
Ace bandages in various sizes
Nail clippers
Nail file
70% rubbing alcohol
Hydrogen peroxide
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 not indicated for long-term use and may not be appropriate in some cases. Ophthalmologists recommend artificial tears (Genteal, Systane, Blink, Refresh) for dry eyes, but also help for tired eyes as a soothing lubricant.
Styptic pencil for shaving nicks
Bug repellent
Aloe vera gel
Styptic pencil for shaving nicks
Wound wash saline
Surgical tape

New this year – OTC Narcan

Cough and Cold

I am not a fan of multi-ingredient products as they are often combined with other products with the same ingredients and can cause problems. I did list separately decongestants, expectorants, antihistamine, and pain relievers, as the meds taken should only reflect their symptoms. Many combo products contain acetaminophen and are mistakenly taken along with more acetaminophen, which can lead to liver toxicity and overdose.

Saline nasal spray
Pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine (Sudafed)
Cough syrup
Guaifenesin (Mucinex, Robitussin)
Vicks Vaporub
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Dramamine) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) or loratadine (Claritin, Alavert)
Cough drops

Stomach Ailments

Tums or Maalox
Motion sickness medicine

Reproductive Health

Condoms (to avoid the need for the next item)
Plan B (sounds crazy, but I sell a lot of it on Sunday mornings)

Other Important Reminders for the First Aid Kit

  1. Copy of health insurance card in a Ziploc bag (He keeps the original in his wallet, and I keep a copy at home).
  2. Copy of immunization records, including the Covid-19 vaccine, in a Ziploc bag. (Even though the school has one, the student must keep a copy.)
  3. Vitamin supplements are an individual choice as are melatonin or any sleep aid.
  4. For Athletes: Any product you plan to ingest as a supplement or medication should be cleared by your trainers and coaches. The NCAA has stringent guidelines all participating athletes must follow.
  5. Depending on the 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 (blizzards and hurricanes come to mind) so they can assemble necessary items themselves.
  6. 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 out well in advance.
  7. Remind students to keep all RX items secured and locked in a safe. 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 college drop-off day.

Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to get these documents once your child turns 18. I used Mama Bear for my son, who attends school out-of-state, and the process was seamless. Now, we can offer our readers a 20% discount when you use the code GROWN&FLOWN as we are affiliates. (We receive compensation from purchases made through the Mama Bear link, but our opinions are ours.)

More to Read:

Top 12 Things Every Freshman Needs to Bring to College  These are the basics; anything else can be ordered if your teen needs something once they arrive at college.

Vaccinations for college students: Ages 19-24 Vaccinations  (HHS)and Immunization Schedule Ages 18 and younger (CDC)

You may not think of a college first aid kit as something you need on your college packing list, but here's a great post with all the things your college student needs in that kit as well as why it's a smart idea to have one. #collegelife #collegestudent #firstaidkit #collegekids #dormlife

About Gretchen Sionkiewicz

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.

Read more posts by Gretchen

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.