What's in your medicine cabinet?

Is your medicine cabinet a mess of over-the-counter pain relievers, expired prescriptions and out-dated creams?  One doctor advises that when it comes to your medicine cabinet – keep it simple.

Medicine cabinets at home should probably be stocked with the essentials that you will need to buy you over until you can see your physicians,” advised Dr. Michael Lucchesi, chairman of emergency medicine and vice president of medical affairs at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.. “So bandages, antipyretic, medication for fevers, pain killers, mild medications like that.”

But knowing what medication to use, and when, can be confusing sometimes. Would you pass the medicine cabinet quiz?

Question: For a headache, should you take Advil, Tylenol or Aspirin?
Answer: “All three of those work,” Lucchesi said. “Advil which is ibuprofen; Motrin, that's very effective. It usually has a longer half-life, so it lasts for a little bit longer than the Tylenol or the acetaminophen.”

Question: To clean a cut or scrape, should you use hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, neither or both?
Answer: “I would use soap and water with that and that's the best way to clean a cut,” Lucchesi said. “Those others are little bit, first, well the alcohol is painful... But they're abrasive to the tissues, so that it could actually deter or prevent the healing process of the skin.”  Then Lucchesi advised it was important to cover the cut – airing it out could allow bacteria to enter the wound.

Question: For a back or sprained ankle, which makes the most sense: heat, ice, or a prescription pain pill?
Answer: “Any time you injure yourself you should always put on ice,” Lucchesi said. “And that's the first 48 hours. Because when you injure yourself your blood supply goes there, it gets swollen... After that if it's a muscle then you can go with heat. And either way you shouldn't do it for too long. You should do it for about 20 minutes, stop, you can do it for another 20 minutes.”

Lucchesi added it’s important to always check the expiration dates on medications, whether they’re OTC or prescription pills because drugs break down over time and can actually be harmful to the system.