You stock your medicine cabinet with a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and first-aid supplies so you’re ready at the first sniffle or scraped knee. Just as you wouldn’t dream of giving your loved ones expired medicine, you shouldn’t offer them treatment options that are out-of-date, either. The new rules of at-home care:
Don’t give preschoolers cold medicine. Side effects from OTC cough and cold remedies can be life-threatening for children under age 4. Since 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended against giving these drugs to children in this age group.
Take a minimalist approach when cleaning cuts. You may instinctively reach for iodine or hydrogen peroxide when cleaning wounds because that’s what your mom did. But experts believe that the best way to cleanse a wound is with running water, with or without soap. Stronger cleansing solutions can irritate the injury, which is counterproductive to the healing process.
Throw out your ipecac. The AAP used to recommend that every home have syrup of ipecac on hand to induce vomiting, in case a child swallowed something poisonous. The group recently changed its stance, because research showed that induced vomiting could do more harm than good.
Replace mercury thermometers. A well-stocked medicine cabinet should have a digital thermometer, not a mercury one. When a mercury-filled glass thermometer breaks, the toxic mercury inside escapes and can be inhaled.