Whether you going overseas or just going camping locally, are you medically prepared for your trip?
The Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA) recommends that all travelers include a basic travel medical kit when packing. This kit should include the usual essentials and any specific medical requirements that could arise at the destination.
10 Medical kit essentials:
- Travel sickness/Anti-nausea medication – There is nothing worse than starting your holidays feeling nauseous. This medication is available in tablet and syrup form.
- Antiseptic, dressings and plasters - For minor cuts and grazes, take a bottle of antiseptic spray or wipes. Any medical kit must always contain a selection of plasters, sterile gauze dressings, bandages, medical tape and of course surgical gloves. Antiseptic cream or ointment are also a valuable addition to any medical kit. Your pharmacist will be able to guide you when selecting these items.
- Burn kits/dressings – make sure you have a burn gel dressing in your kit. These are sterile and very effective at soothing a minor burn or scald. Never put butter on a wound and try not to burst any blisters that form. If the burn is over a large area or is a deep burn seek urgent medical attention.
- Scissors, safety pins & tweezers- Scissors and safety pins are useful for cutting and securing bandages, tweezers for removing splinters. (Remember to pack scissors, safety pins and tweezers in your main luggage as you will not be able to take them into the aircraft cabin if you are flying anywhere.)
- Sunscreen products - Choose one with a sun protection factor of at least 20. Include an after-sun lotion to soothe sunburn.
- Rehydration sachets and anti-diarrhoea tablets – dehydration can happen quickly and with debilitating effects – especially in young children and if you have vomiting or diarrhoea. Over the counter anti-diarrhoeal medicines can relieve symptoms of diarrhoea and upset stomachs very quickly, however, we recommend that these be kept for use in adults. Children with diarrhoea should be managed using rehydration fluids.
- Paracetamol/pain medication – Available as tablets, chew tablets, effervescent tablets, capsules and syrup paracetamol is the standard recommended in cases of pain and fever. Individuals with liver problems, paracetamol allergies or on long term medication should check with their pharmacist whether paracetamol is safe for them.
- Insect repellent - Avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellents, particularly at night when they are most likely to bite. As an adjunct to malaria prophylaxis in malaria areas, insect repellents containing DET are recommended.
- Antihistamines - Over the counter antihistamines, which are available as tablets and syrups, are used to treat hayfever and can help reduce itchiness and inflammation caused by contact allergies and insect bites.
- Prescription and chronic medication- If you take any regular prescription medication, such as high blood pressure tablets or inhalers for asthma, make sure that you take enough with you.
5 key medical considerations for travelers:
Vaccinations: Before traveling, always check with your pharmacist whether any vaccinations are recommended for your destination.
Travel Insurance: Make sure you have travel insurance if traveling abroad or to far-flung places which will ensure you get the best treatment if you become ill or have an accident which requires treatment at a hospital or medical centre.
Emergency Numbers: Do research about your destination and compile a list of emergency medical numbers such as local doctors, hospitals, poison help line numbers, ambulance services, a paediatrician etc.
Local pharmacy: Pharmacists are always on hand to help. In nearly every South African town you visit you will find a local pharmacy with a pharmacist who is able to advise and assist you should you find yourself in need of medical advice, repeat prescriptions, and over the counter medications.