Dorm IQ #12 | How To Create A College First Aid Kit + Clever Container Ideas

March 3, 2024

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College First Aid Kit Contents and Clever Containers

Welcome to Dorm IQ Topic #12 where we’ll walk through ideas for what to put in a college first aid kit. Our Dorm Shopping Facebook group members often ask for contents and container ideas, so you’ll see some creative container ideas below as well! Please keep in mind that we are not medical experts and all ideas below are simply to help you assemble a college first aid kit that works for your student. Please seek medical advice for specific treatments and medications for your student.

Cuts, scrapes, minor burns, muscle aches and common illnesses are going to happen in college. When they don’t feel well or are hurting, the last thing they want to do is find a ride into town to get cold medicine or Band-Aids or wait for an Instacart delivery. It is a good idea to supply them with some basics so they’ll be prepared when the need arises.

You can find pre-assembled ‘first aid kits’, and while there are a few helpful things in there, you end up with hundreds of little items that you probably will never use as well as ibuprofen and anti-bacterial ointment that has been in there for who knows how long. A DIY college first aid kit is a better option.

College First Aid Kit: Supplies & Tools

You certainly don’t need everything on this list, but you know your student and what they would use. You probably already have many of these things at home and can just portion out enough to last them the 9-10 months while away at school.

If your student will be taking a car to school, consider a small first-aid kit for their glove compartment.

College First Aid Kit: OTC Medications And Treatments

  • Tylenol – Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Decongestant
  • Nighttime cold medication
  • Allergy medication
  • Antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin)
  • Dramamine
  • Aloe vera
  • Tums or Pepto-Bismol
  • Imodium or other Anti-Diarrheal
  • Emergen-C
  • Cough drops
  • Topical pain reliever (such as Icy Hot or Biofreeze)
  • Nasal spray/mist
  • Eye drops
  • Athlete’s foot spray
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Narcan – please speak to your local pharmacist for information about this potentially life-saving medication

College First Aid kit: Instructions Needed?

We have a very popular post written by a nurse in our Dorm Shopping Facebook Group. She posted a 1-page printable list of common conditions and which OTC meds may help each one. She gave us permission to share, but please know that this is not medical advice – please confirm all information with your doctor first.

The table below displays the contents of that 1-page. The printable version is in the Facebook group files. You’ll need to be a group member to access this fie. Simple to join, and so much great information in this helpful community all about getting ready for dorm life.

I Feel…Use or Take This…How Often, Use With, Caution…
Just starting not to feel wellEmergen-C1 packet dissolved in 16oz water bottle/day
Aches/Pains with no swelling (headache)Acetaminophen (Tylenol) 500mg2 tabs every 6 hours
Allergies (itchy eyes, runny nose) Loratadine (Claritin) 10mg1 tab daily (as needed)
Congestion, stuffy nose, sinus pressurePseudoephedrine (Sudafed PE)2 tabs every 4-6 hours, DO NOT take with other pain relievers (Tylenol and Ibuprofen)
CoughVick’s VapoDrops (menthol)Dissolve drop slowly in mouth as needed
DehydrationElectrolyte Powder (Pedialyte)Add packet to 16oz water bottle, drink slowly as needed, around 2 packs/day
Diarrhea (loose stools) onlyImmodium (loperamide) 2mg2 tabs initially, then 1 if symptoms persist DO NOT take more than 4 tabs/day
Diarrhea, Nausea, Upset StomachBismuth Digestive Relief (Pepto)2 tabs, then 1 after an hour if symptoms persist, DO NOT take more than 8 tabs/day
Heartburn/Acid RefluxFamotidine (Pepcid) 20mg  Tums (antacid)1 tab as needed, DO NOT take more than 2 tabs/day Chew 2-4 tabs as needed, DO NOT take more than 10 tabs/day
Minor cuts/skin woundsBacitracin (Neosporin) ointmentApply 1-3 times per day, cover with band aid
Minor burns, abrasions, sunburnAloe VeraApply 3-4 times per day, DO NOT cover
Nausea only, dizziness, motion sicknessDramamine1-2 tabs daily as needed
Skin rash, skin irritation (itchy), bug bites Hydrocortisone (itch relief cream)Apply 3-4 times per day, DO NOT cover
Sore throatIbuprofen and VapoDropsTake both as instructed above (these CAN be taken together)
ToothacheOral Analgesic (benzocaine) 20%Apply to affected tooth/gum area, CAN take with Ibuprofen as instructed above

Clever Storage For A College First Aid Kit

There are a lot of items on the lists above, so where should you keep all of these first aid items in college? You can get a specific first aid kit box or container, but most are pretty small. The following are other more creative options that will give you a little more room and flexibility.

Prepare In Advance for college medical care

In addition to creating a college first aid kit, now is the time to prepare for the eventuality that medical care will come into play at some point during the college years.

Know The Local Medical Care Options

Before you send your student on their way be sure that they store the contact information for the school’s medical clinic and the phone number of a local doctor who accepts your medical insurance or the medical insurance they will use while in college.

If they don’t have them already, order them their own medical and dental insurance cards to carry in their wallet.

Determine Your Local Pharmacy

Determine the pharmacy your student will use prior to college move-in! It is much easier to research when you’re not in a time crunch. If there is a branch of the pharmacy you use at home convenient to campus, that should be an easy option with your student’s information already on file.

Complete Important Paperwork

Once our students become legal adults (18 in most states, 19 in AL, 21 in MS and NE), we as parents do not have the legal right to their private information or healthcare decisions if the student cannot give verbal permission. If they are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, you may not be able to make medical decisions or handle their finances in that time period. Please have your student strongly consider a Young Adult Healthcare and Durable Power Attorney.

Mama Bear Legal Forms was created to reduce the costs involved with having an attorney draw up this paperwork. It is a simple and helpful online service that walks the young adult through the decisions (including DNR and end of life decisions) and produces the powers’ of attorney based on the answers. In most states, the student will need to sign in front of a notary although some state rules vary on signatures required and notarizing. You can learn more on the Mama Bear website, and you can use our group negotiated discount code PSA20 to take 20% off your purchase.

Once the forms are completed and signed (the student cannot sign until they are legally an adult), Mama Bear has a free app that will scan the documents which can then be kept on each family members’ phone for immediate access if needed.


Ultimately, the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve prepared your student to handle expected and unexpected situations is priceless. You can work together to create a well-stocked and accessible college first aid kit as well as pre-determine local medical facilities and pharmacy as well as put important legal paperwork in place.

This article and its writers do not recommend any medications. Just suggesting some things that we have used or think could benefit your student. As always, seek the advice of a medical professional before taking any medications. 


Dorm IQ is a comprehensive learning series covering all of the questions frequently asked in our Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group. The Facebook group is also a great source for prior years’ move-in pictures for decor and organizational ideas.

All of the Dorm IQ Topics can be found here.

Our complete Dorm Shopping Guide is available here.

Important Tips and tools for dorm and campus safety.


Still have questions? Please comment below, or come ask us in the Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group. So much great info in the group along with hundreds, maybe thousands, of move-in pictures from 2023 to give you ideas and inspiration.

=> Please share this article with your dorm-bound friends and their parents. I would love for everyone to understand the topics in Dorm IQ before they start dorm shopping!

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Important Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, a lawyer or a financial advisor. Please use this content as informational only and as only one input as you consider what options are best for you and your family. This is not professional advice.

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