Holiday First Aid Kit: The Essentials

Going on holiday is an exciting time but leaving room for an essential first aid kit will not only give you peace of mind it might also save you time trying to find a pharmacy and one that has wi-fi for your google translate.

Nowadays, people often go to far flung places and depending on your location and availability of medical care will alter your specifics. One thing you should never travel without is travel insurance, as even something as simple as a broken leg can cost you a lot of money if you need to change your travel plans, and if you are travelling somewhere where medical care is paid for, such as the US, the bills can be heart stopping in themselves.

Below is a list of essentials:

– Painkillers not just for the adults in the group, but make sure you take the type of liquid paracetamol or ibuprofen your children will take, otherwise you may find yourself trying to persuade a feverish screaming child that cherry flavoured paracetamol is exactly the same as the one from home, when of course it is not. Painkillers for adults are useful as different countries often provided different formulations and you may take a while to try and find what you are looking for.

– Wound cleaning and dressing kits are useful – see your local pharmacy. Again it likely you can buy locally but saves time and effort

– Plasters – when travelling with children or accident prone adults these are an essential.

Tweezers can come in handy for removing splinters, insect bites and the like, and are often difficult to source.

– Scissors – although do not carry in hand luggage.

– Thermometer – this can be a life saver and a good indication of whether you need to find a doctor, particularly with children. Don’t forget children whose temperature is above 39 and under 5 can sometimes have a febrile convulsion- they need to be admitted to hospital for observation.

– Antihistamines –  for children and adults. Good for stings and bites, also prickly heat and normal hay fever type allergies. Can also be used in certain food allergies (as long as not life threatening anaphylaxis).

– Oral rehydration salts –  can be bought at a pharmacy and can help in the case of diarrhoea. For children who often will not tolerate the taste use bottled water and fruit juice in a dilution to ensure they continue to hydrate.

– Loperamide –  can be used if necessary. Ensure you read the warnings on the packet and do not use for long periods, but may ensure you can get home on the flight with your diarrhoea.

– Sunburn soothing creams, lotions and shower gels (try to avoid in the first place with slip slap slop)

– Insect repellent is essential in areas of malaria or other insect borne illness to avoid becoming unwell. You may also need insect nets to sleep under and impregnated clothes check the travel health sites for more information.

– Insect bite treatment such as cold packs and anti-histamine creams can be helpful (see oral anti histamines as well).

– Medication for pre-existing medical conditions, including regularly taken medication such as the oral contraceptive pill, regular pain killers etc. Ensure if you are travelling across time zones you do not miss any regular medication.

– Condoms – essential for those holiday romances. Treat every potential partner as a source of infection and protect yourself. Stocking up in advance can avoid embarrassing scenes trying to buy them, and in some countries, they may not be available.

For those travellers going further afield, make sure you check http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx which will give advice on anti malarias, travellers’ diarrhoea (antibiotics mostly not indicated) and pre-travel vaccinations.

If you are going to be on a long-haul flight and have any other risk factors, you may wish to consider flight socks in an effort to avoid deep vein thrombosis. These can be bought in pharmacies.

Local guidelines may provide insight into treatment for jelly fish stings, shark bites etc!

Advice written by Dr Elizabeth Kershaw-Yates, GP and one of the medical team at TheOnlineClinic: https://www.theonlineclinic.co.uk/

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