How to Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet

Nothing says New Year's like resolutions to clean up and get organized. An overflowing medicine cabinet is a great place to start.

With these tips from Dr. Donnica Moore, president of the Sapphire Women's Health Group and a women's health expert, you'll have your medicine cabinet in tip-top shape in no time.

Location, Location, Location

The long-time mantra of real estate agents everywhere is a critical philosophy to have toward your medicines. Keeping your medication in the ideal place can maximize safety and also improve your ability to take your medication properly and get the best results in the long run.

Keep Meds Out of Children's Reach

Even medicine that is presumably safe can be toxic if a child drinks a whole bottle of it. Remember that a motivated child can drag a chair into the bathroom, climb on top of the sink and reach whatever he wants to explore. Don't be lured into complacency by "child-proof" caps.

Also, don't underestimate the motives of school-aged children. If your child ever makes comments like "I wish I were dead," take this seriously and seek professional help if necessary.

Store Medicines Properly

Your bathroom medicine cabinet may not be the best place to store every drug. Some medicines need to be refrigerated, while some, like hydrogen peroxide, need to be kept in the dark. If you have uncertainties or any questions, your pharmacist is an excellent resource.

If you take any medicines requiring injections, store your syringes and needles safely -- out of the reach of children -- and dispose of them properly in medical hazard boxes, not in the trash.

Store Medicine Where You Are Most Likely to Need It

Consider your lifestyle. Store medicines that are taken after eating in a kitchen cabinet.

Sleeping pills, on the other hand, probably should not be kept at the bedside: That makes it too easy to roll over and take one when you might not really need to do so. First aid products should be kept together -- in the kitchen and in the car.

Medicines for on-the-Go Lifestyles

If you travel a lot, have swing shifts or are simply not in the same location every morning, you may be best off carrying your daily medications in your pocket book, brief case or toiletries kit.

This is also a good strategy for people who just can't remember to take their medications every morning, especially women on the go who take birth control pills.

If you have medication that must be taken in emergencies or as soon as you have certain symptoms, carry it with you at all times.

If you are traveling by air, bus or rail, don't keep your important medicines in your checked luggage; keep it in your carry-on baggage. Before traveling on any overnight trip, be sure you have enough of your prescription medication to last for your entire stay. Make sure you have your doctor's phone number with you in case your medicine is lost or stolen.

What to Throw Out

Expired Products

Check the expiration dates on all products. Remember to check products you may keep in the refrigerator, the bedroom, the kitchen and first-aid kits. Throw out everything that is expired, even if they've never been opened or the package is still full.

Cosmetics

Although cosmetics don't usually carry expiration dates, there can be health risks from using makeup too long, especially in the eye area. For example, mascara should be changed every six months, regardless of how often you actually use it.

Old Prescriptions

Do not save half-completed antibiotics prescriptions "just in case" you get another infection. If you have an illness serious enough to take antibiotics, you should see a doctor.

You may have a viral illness for which antibiotics will do nothing. Even if you do, you may need a different one. Ultimately, you may do yourself more harm than good by taking an incomplete course of therapy.

What to Keep

When restocking your medicine cabinet, think about what really needs to be there. Consider the cabinet's size, what other storage space is available, where the cabinet is located, how many medicines you have and other things you store there, such as make-up or facial cleansers.

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