As a physician, I try to look after all my own medical problems. Frankly I don’t trust the medical practitioners in many foreign countries. But I appreciate that you probably don’t have this ability.
Because of the size and space occupied by a thorough first aid kit, I am a real minimalist.
1. Bandaids. A selection of Elastoplast bandaids: roll of strip bandaids that can be cut into various widths, finger tip bandaids, knuckle bandaids.
2. Steri Strips. These thin strips are very handy if you get a cut anywhere and can easily replace sutures.
3. Moleskin. The best blister treatment. “Thread” blisters with a needle and thread, leaving the thread in place allowing the blister to drain but keeping the skin over top intact. Cut a doughnut in the moleskin the size of the blister and cover all with duct tape. Duct tape alone is useful at the first sign of any hot spot.
4. Pressure dressing. The simplest would be a roll of Kling or an elastic bandage.
5. Antiseptic. Iodine and mercurochrome are old-fashioned and often delay healing. Use soap and water to clean a wound. Burns and large abrasions heal fastest by keeping them moist to allow new skin formation. Often simple Vaseline is best. Flamazine is good for burns.
Most medications can be purchased without a prescription in most places in the world (the exceptions are Canada, USA and Western Europe), so it is not worthwhile carrying a bunch of drugs. The only ones I routinely carry are ibuprofen, (or Vitamin I for those of us getting on in age), cortisone cream and sometimes an antifungal cream.
1. Ibuprofen. An effective analgesic/anti-inflammatory that is generally well tolerated. (I use much larger doses than most people often in the 800-1200mg range). Great for headaches, joint inflammation, menstrual cramps.
2. Dimenhydrinate (Gravol). A reasonable antiemetic. Available as tablets or suppositories if unable to hold anything down. Great for car and sea sickness.
3. Antihistamine. (Benadryl or Claritine). Especially if you are prone to allergic reactions or hives.
4. Decongestants. For those inevitable colds, use pseudoephedrine and nasal sprays like Otrivin.
5. Cortisone Cream. For rubbed inflamed skin I like betamethasone cream.
6. Untifungal Cream.
7. Antibiotics. Available only by prescription from a doctor in North America and Europe, can often obtain with no prescription elsewhere in the world. Don’t include these in a first aid kit but buy as you need them.
a. Travelers Diarrhea: Here advise from local physicians who know the common responsible organisms can be worthwhile. 1. Activated Charcoal Tablets, 250 mg – These work wonders for traveler’s diarrhea! Instead of just keeping you from pooping (which is what Imodium does) the charcoal absorbs the bacteria in your body so you can get rid of it on your next bowel movement. Used in a stronger dose for overdoses on medication 2.Ciprofloxacin taken early in the episode can be effective for E coli, the most common cause. 3. Azithromycin as resistance to Cipro, is becoming more common 4. Metronidazole (for giardia or amoebic dysentery).
b. Bronchitis and pneumonia 1. Amoxil – old fashioned but can be effective alone if have a productive cough. 2. Azithromycin 3. Levofloxacin