May 15, 2006
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
Medicine Cabinets Need Spring Cleaning, Too
STRATFORD—The warmer weather and longer days signal the annual "spring cleaning" ritual when closets, basements and garages are spruced up and old or no-longer-used items find their way to curbside collections. One area of the house that’s easy to overlook during a springtime sweep is your family’s medicine cabinet.
"If you can't remember the last time you cleaned out your medicine cabinet, then it's probably past the time when you should have done it," said Dr. Joshua Coren, a family physician at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. "It only takes a few minutes and it reduces your risk of medication errors and helps you prepare for an emergency."
Spring cleaning a medicine cabinet involves three steps. Start by making a medication list for each person in the house. Under each individual's name, list the medications taken, including the strength and dosage, and note any allergies to medications that person has. Put the lists in a safe place and make sure each person's primary care physician gets a copy.
Next, get rid of any prescriptions no longer being taken along with any medications that are beyond their expiration date. This includes any ointments, creams and lotions. Keep a particular eye out for antibiotics, which are meant to be taken until the medication is gone.
"If you have leftover antibiotics, you probably didn’t follow your physician’s original instructions," Dr. Coren said. "Get rid of these and other unused or expired medications by flushing them down the toilet. Don’t just throw medicines in the trash because children and pets will still be able to get to them. You can also check with your pharmacy to see if you can return unused medicines for disposal by the pharmacist."
The final spring cleaning step is gathering supplies for a basic first-aid kit. Dr. Coren suggests including the following items:
· Assorted sizes of bandages and sterile gauze pads
· Hypoallergenic tape
· An ice pack or plastic bags with zipper?like seals to hold ice
· An elastic bandage for wrapping sprains or keeping ice packs in place
· Antiseptic wipes and hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds
· Anti?bacterial cream or ointment
· Tweezers for removing splinters and ticks
· Aloe lotion for burns, including sunburn
· Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream for irritations like poison ivy, rashes or insect bites
· Acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin for minor aches and pains
· Over-the-counter antihistamine medication for allergy relief
· Sunscreen with an SPF rating of 15 or higher.
To request an interview with Dr.Coren, please contact Jerry Carey, University News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.