Items every traveler’s first-aid kit should contain
What should every traveler’s first-aid kit contain? Here is a list of items recommended by Dr. Brian Terry, a specialist in travel medicine who practices at the Healthy Traveler Clinic in Pasadena, and Dr. Christopher Van Tilburg, an emergency and wilderness physician and editor of Wilderness Medicine magazine in Salt Lake City:
* Antibiotic: Depending on where you’re headed, include a broad- spectrum prescription antibiotic such as Zithromax or Cipro.
* Antibiotic cream to treat cuts
* Antifungal creams
* Antihistamine (such as Benadryl) for allergies and bug bites
* Anti-malarial medication, if you are traveling to a part of the world where the risk is high
“It’s absolutely vital,” Terry says.
* Bug spray with DEET
Terry recommends Ultrathon.
* Condoms, for safe sex
“People don’t talk about these things, but they are very important,” Terry says.
* Cotton swabs
* Dental floss and an emergency dental kit (for example, temporary dental cement)
* Digital fever thermometer in a hard carrying case so it won’t break
* Ear plugs
* Elastic (Ace) bandages, 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide
These bandages are useful for binding major wounds, says Van Tilburg.
* Electrolyte tablets to combat dehydration
* Eyeglass repair kit
* First-aid tape
“My favorite is Johnson & Johnson waterproof first-aid tape,” which sticks well and can be used to treat wounds and blisters, Van Tilburg says.
* Hand sanitizers
But keep it in your purse or backpack, Terry says.
* Hydrocortisone ointment or cream to get the itch out of bug bites
* Ibuprofen or other pain reliever
* Imodium for symptomatic relief of diarrhea
“But take it with an antibiotic,” Terry says.
* Indigestion remedies, such as Gaviscon or Maalox
* Moleskin or mole foam for blisters
* Motion sickness medicine (over the counter, such as Dramamine or prescription scopolamine tablets or patches)
* Nasal decongestant spray (such as Afrin)
* Nitrile gloves
Nitrile is more flexible and less likely to cause allergies than latex, Van Tilburg says.
* Pencil and notebook or Post-it Notes
“For writing directions if you are looking for a doctor,” Terry says.
* Safety pins
* Scissors that fold
Terry recommends Slip-N-Snips, about $5 online or at retail establishments.
* Sunscreen, waterproof, with an SPF of 25 or higher and UVB and UVA protection
The waterproof kind stays on longer when you sweat, Van Tilburg and Terry say.
* Throat lozenges (such as Cepacol)
Get “a good pair of metal tweezers that work, with a pointy or flat tip,” says Terry (who uses jeweler’s forceps).
* Urinary-tract-infection medication
Carry whatever your doctor recommends, Terry says.
* Wilderness trips: Van Tilburg recommends items for wound care, water purification and CPR.
For wound care, take adhesive bandages, soap and hand sanitizers. “The key to wound care in the wilderness is cleaning it properly,” he says. For water purification, he recommends chlorine tablets because they taste better than iodine and work faster. Also: a CPR mask and a pair of vinyl or nitrile gloves. “Some store-bought first-aid kits don’t come with these,” Van Tilburg says.
* Yeast-infection medication, over the counter or whatever your doctor prescribes.
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