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The Best and The Worst Home Remedies to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet

Updated on November 3, 2015
RNMSN profile image

Barbara worked at Thomas Hospital Home Health and was certified for home health from ANCC. She received her MSN from Mobile University, AL.

"This might sting a bit"

Home Remedies are like the scene in Never-ending story, where the little old lady has the luck dragon pinned down and is "doctoring" him and then the little ole man is next...remember her line?
"It's got to hurt if it’s to heal!"

Well it's like that in every home, practically all over this earth, I swear. We keep the weirdest things in them and for the longest time! I mean, please, how many nearly used tubes of antibiotic ointment do we really need lying around gathering dust?

Now, the only reason I know this is because of the gypsy fondly known as my honey! If we had not be-bopped all over this side of the country, I would be a good candidate for that new reality show "Hoarders" especially when it comes to the medicine cabinet. There is nothing like moving to get you to count all of the items that are the same in your cabinets! You can sing the sesame street song as you are counting! "Four of these things belong together..."

Once you finally get everything sorted out and laid out from one end of the house to another, colorful little piles aren't they, now is the time to sit down and make of list of the best and the worst things to keep in your medicine chest.

Best Versus the Worst

There are certain things you should always keep on hand. You can also buy a home remedy /first aid kit and be done with it but you will still find that you need other things not included in the red first aid kit. We will not even go over what is in that standard kit. This is specifically about the things you will need the most (the best) and the things you will try to use that will hurt instead of heal (the worst).

Let's start with kids. As long as they are leashed and muzzled they will be fine. They will not grow and have fun and learn, mind you, but they will be fine. If you keep yours this way you will never need pretty Sponge Bob or My Little Pony band-aids. Otherwise, children are bound to fall, scratch, tear, cut, bump and hurt every bony prominence, with elbows and knees being the most common.

Start off with soap and water and do it with the least amount and the least rubbing as possible...just a paper towel, carefully folded to the size of the injury with warm water and a little dot of liquid soap will do wonders to calm and assure the child that they are not dying. Dying is a thing they are sure is happening, more than likely brought on by older siblings gasps and exclamations of the many times THEY had nearly died!

Now, a guys in Britain, Canada, Philippines....shhhh....anyone listening? Are you sure? All right then, go out and get every last bottle of mercurochrome you can get your hands on and hoard it! I don't care if the expiration date is tomorrow! I swear it will not go bad! Man do I miss that stuff...It doesn't sting, turns lovely iridescent colours the kids love to see in the sunshine and rarely has to have a band aid!

If you have had all your wonderful mercury products taken off the shelves then you would need to get the iodine and blow on the poor baby cut, scrap or near miss.

I hate iodine but it kills every germ and then some! Everything needs a band aid even non-visible wounds need a band aid. Every child and grandparent knows this fact. It is the parents budgets that are reluctant to accept this fact. Which reminds me, the next big envelope to the grandkids needs to have dollar store band aids in it!

The advantage of mercurochrome is it keeps a protective layer over the scrape so when, twenty minutes later; your little head decides they really wanted the rainbow band aid not the superman band aid you can take it off and put another band aid on without hurting the wound bed. Little kids' earth shattering wounds are the only times you want them to stay clean, dry and scabbed. If the cut, scrape or near miss incident is bad enough to warrant a trip to the urgent care visit then of course all bets are off.

The absolute WORST thing you can do for a child’s scrape is wash it, dry it, and put antibiotic ointment on it and a band-aid. Every time your little head wants a new band aid all the stuff is gone so you start all over with the soap and water and the reassurance and the ointment and the band aid and please.

My critical thinking point here is that the less you disturb the wound bed itself especially in the first 24 hours, the more chance you have of it getting granulation tissue and forming a nature’s band-aid. You guessed it, a scab. A kid’s favorite new toy. I can actually remember my first scab. It was so neat to see what it looked like underneath. Mom was not too impressed but it was cool!

So all that hullabalooey about the ointment is way overrated to my way of thinking. Children need to have mild scratches, scrapes, cuts clean and dry as a bone. Besides, it helps prepare them for anatomy and physiology! Also, if the wound bed is kept too moist, it will get infected, this is the exact opposite of everything I have written about deep tissue wounds, now, so don't get them mixed up. Skin tears, scratches, scrapes, shallow cuts, soap and water and dry as a bone OK?

What about rashes or bug bites or worse, poison ivy? My older sister, Mary, goodness, one summer she got into poison sumac and I was as miserable as she was. She was my best friend and if she could not play, I certainly was not going any further than her side. Problem was she was so miserable I know I pestered her to pieces but she was a good sister, even for all of that.

The best thing for poison ivy is still tepid baths with baking soda and witch hazel in the water as often as possible, even if it’s every hour the first two days and tons of calamine lotion. No aspirin of course because the worst cases of any rash caused by a poisonous plant can potentially cause an elevated temperature. (But the baby aspirin we got as kids never hurt my head twitches...that was a JOKE!!)

Rashes caused from allergic reaction require a physician’s examination however, more than likely the answer will be Benadryl and rest. Now this nurse will add more thing. The number one most important item in everyone’s medicine cabinet MUST be Desitin ointment. Not the creamy kind, not the off brand, not the look-a-likes but original Desitin ointment. Thick, sticky and smelly. Good stuff, Maynard :) Squeeze a bit onto your finger, rub your fingers together to get it all smeary and dab it over the areas just dab, do not rub and then leave it alone...don't wrap it, it will wash out; reapply as needed. You will be amazed and astounded what wonderful results come from Desitin!

Zinc Oxide (Desitin) is also the only thing to use on superficial burns after gently cool water wash and pat dry. That means only First degree burns…If it bubbles up you can use desitin on the area, but if it’s open you must see a physician.

The worst things you can use for every day “Poor thing, let me look at it” is not looking at it. Bumps on the head are especially fearful. Use good common sense. That bump NEEDS to be the size of a pigeon’s egg! Better because if it is a bruise with fluid and blood inside, that means you can see it but if there is not a bump with a bruise? That means there is something going on under that area inside the persons brain! So yes, keep looking at it, poor thing.

Always double check falls on the head…we know our favorite joke…”they are soft…they’ll bounce” but this cannot be stressed enough! Subdural hematomas are no joke! Watch for excessive sleepiness, change in itch of cry, change in mental status, increased drooling, change in sizes of pupils, one larger than the other, vomiting and inability to arouse. All of these and no palpable or visible bump and that is an emergency room visit, in fact, it is a 911 call.

If it is a bad bruise, you can see, and feel (palpable or palpate), the bump then if it makes you feel better rub an ice cube over it lightly. You can do this for, well never mind, the child isn’t going to allow it for long enough for the ice to cause harm anyway but just in case…no more than 3 minutes at a time, wait one minute reapply and continue.

I know that the petroleum based carcinogenic's we all know and love are unfortunately not going anywhere until we use them all up and let the earth and sky breathe again but really people, let’s try not to put it on our kids skin, intact or otherwise, OK? Don’t use the Vaseline as a skin barrier on babies…use desitin. Do not use Vaseline on dry skin, use lotion. However, Carmex works the best on cold sores and comes in a real lipstick tube and as long as it is not eaten, hey, every kid, even boys, love lips.

This one is my sons little head...she used to hate the sand, now she loves it. Now all will be well so long as she doesn't eat it!
This one is my sons little head...she used to hate the sand, now she loves it. Now all will be well so long as she doesn't eat it!

So here are this nurses Kratchet’s list of best:

1. Soap and water (I do not have to add after all this time that it is your hands you wash first then you wash your hands and again whenever they get soiled or wet? I could add gloves…six bucks a box…not a bad thing to have around at all!

2. Band aides…for kids get the pretty ones and make sure they are easy to take on and off…NO I DO NOT WANT this left on for days….wound beds must be washed daily I the bath…take the band aid of in the bathtub…let the child do it…makes them feel so brave.

3. Mercurochrome or if it is totally gone from the face of the earth then get that horrible iodine or Merthiolate and have a Popsicle handy.

4. Desitin

5. Baking Soda

6. Witch Hazel

7. Carmex…all kids love “Lips”

And here is my list of the worst:

1. Not looking, touching, feeling, and smelling anything your loved ones tell you is hurting.

2. Not washing your hands first and often with soap and water.

3. Too much ice…this can actually freeze the childs skin

4. Carcinogenic petroleum based products such as Vaseline and kerosene (except "lips")


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    • RNMSN profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Bethard 

      2 years ago from Tucson, Az

      Good morning charla

      following the advice of your physician is the best way to go / if you ask your MD about natural remedies such as charcoal and turmeric I am sure you would receive the best answer

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Enlydia - I wanted to thank you for your post. My hubby & I've had to deal with MRSA boils before so ANYWAY- I'd love to know how much Tumeric & how much activated charcoal did you use? How do you make the paste & how often did you apply it to the boil? Also where did you get the activated charcoal? Thank you so much & I look forward to your redponse!!!

    • RNMSN profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Bethard 

      6 years ago from Tucson, Az

      oh for sure froyfish! I have desitin, (like, DUH), methiolate and iodine in my cabinet!! :)

    • frogyfish profile image


      6 years ago from Central United States of America

      Great tips in a fun way. Except that I will go ahead and take the iodine! :-) Thank you for sharing.

    • RNMSN profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Bethard 

      6 years ago from Tucson, Az

      good morning Kim! do I!!(think pain lasts forever) the last pic is our granddaughter :) isn't she gorgeous? so serious!

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 

      6 years ago

      I love the pics in this hub, RNMSN. I also like how you stress the importance of validating a child's feelings when they are hurt, which is about 90% fear and 10% pain most of the time - fear the pain will never stop! Children think pain will last forever.

    • RNMSN profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Bethard 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Az

      thank you dadwalz

      this was a good one and a joy to write

      love to you

      plus every time I get a comment I get to look at my granddtr Juli :)

      such and intense look playing in the sandbox!!

      barbara b

    • dadhwalz profile image


      7 years ago

      the way you shared your information is really awesome and is very informative.I believe that natural remedies are also very helpful for many problems.

    • RNMSN profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Bethard 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Az

      whoa that sounds great!!way to go Enlydia!! thank you!! to get an MD to order that....hmmmmm. :)

      love to you barbara b

      yep I knew it you're a nurse too lol we gravitate together don't we? check out happyboomernurse shes wonderful!!

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 

      7 years ago from trailer in the country

      I like the way you think...I have a few of my own favorites for great of my favorites for boil like sores is a paste of activated charcoal and turmeric...the charcoal absorbs the toxins, while the turmeric takes away the pain and kills the infection....used it on MRSA and works like magic.

    • RNMSN profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Bethard 

      8 years ago from Tucson, Az

      I swear Sharwellyn Im going to go on the forum!!! what do you think about those dumb copy this stuff before you an log in? get two wines in me at 5PM and i cant even type!!!good thing its 7AM eh??? fotfl (katie baby taught me a new abbrev can you tell?)besides I posted this once aleady but this ones longer and better aint you pleased as punch????

      stupid nurse indeed!! want to go eat at her house?cause its a sure fire bet she dies not wash her hands before she fixes her dinner eh? ugh

      want me to tell you now or later that a pimple is s simple staph nfection? ugh...but not mrsa...those are so smart they are resistant to eveything...I see you tattoos/ sure your artist changes gloves a lot and doest worrk wth one finger ungloved...every person have staph...I do...neve had mrsa but I have it...

      let me clarify haha anyone who has been in heathcare field over 7 yrs will cluture nares armpits,groins gross positive for mrsa...but that doesn't mean we get occurs because staph is on and in your body at all times...don't wash the hands, don't scrub under the nails and don't get me started on tips...use soalr or acrylic only if you must...I love my acrcylics :)....then you're are introducing staph into your body...once in the body those buggers have a parrrrttttyyyy!!!!!!!! ok? clear as mud? first and best and ONLY ONLY ONLY ONLY waant to hear it one more time? ok, geez you guys are no fun on a sat AM...its 0730 aint you up yet? so anyway wash your hands soap and water well and often and don't use those dumb sanitizers unless creek water and soap are unavailable haha that for you camper!!!

      boy or girl? fat and happy? bald or prett red hair like your? how long do you 'ppose you can hide your vack? baby gil laughs at me and when I say, "gravity, baby girl. gravity" she laushg and says I can pull her skin up and say to the grandkids of hers [none yet :(((((( "see kids this is what it USED to look like!!!!" FOTFL!!!!!!

    • shazwellyn profile image


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Thanks for this. What a great hub. You talked about deep wounds... when I was in hospital after an emergency c section, the stupid nurse forced me to scrub my wound with soap and water - I guess she thought it was only a scratch! Was it any wonder that I got MRSA?! stupid.. stupid.. stupid!

      Good advice for small cuts though!

      Thanks for writing x


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