31 OTC Medicine to Stockpile

Experienced preppers realize that when SHTF, one of the first locations looted and wiped out will be pharmacies and drugstores.

What you may not realize is that in addition to those narcotics and prescription medications that many people covet, pretty much all of the over the counter medications (OTC) will be wiped out too.

neosporin antibiotic ointment

And in a SHTF scenario, no access to OTC meds not only makes life uncomfortable but it can be life threatening.

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A great resource to purchase and have on hand is the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) Guide to Nonprescription medications. Keep in mind that I am not a medical doctor and cannot in any way recommend specific OTC meds for your individual situation.

Please consult your physician for any possible contraindications or side effects with OTC meds that you choose to stockpile.

Suffice it to say that when building your food and supply inventory in preparation for SHTF situations, you may want to consider some of the top 31 over the counter meds for your stockpile to keep you and your family healthy.

When choosing OTC meds for your stockpile, there are several factors to consider:

  • Availability of the OTC
  • Affordability
  • Safety and Dosage Recommendations for Adults/Children
  • Multi-Use potential
  • Space in BOB or Other Storage

Symptoms to treat with OTC

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Minor cuts/scrapes
  • Heartburn
  • Ulcers
  • Earache
  • Insect bites
  • Diaper rash
  • Insomnia
  • Ringworm
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Arthritis
  • Aches and pains
  • Muscle soreness
  • Backache
  • Hives
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Motion sickness
  • Constipation
  • Runny Nose/Cough
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting

Let’s face it; there’s no way in the world that you and your family can predict which symptoms or injuries from the above list that you will face during a SHTF situation.

The only way to be fully prepared is to make sure that your SHTF stockpile includes a wide variety of OTC meds so no matter what comes, you’ll be ready.

Obviously, you may not have room in your bug out bag and pantry for multiples of all the top 31 OTC meds listed, so the list is divided into categories. If you carefully choose OTC meds from each category, you can treat the widest array of symptoms.

Make sure you purchase infant or children’s versions of medications if applicable to avoid any accidental overdose.

It’s also crucial to discuss your choice of OTC meds with your physician now to ensure that you don’t stockpile medications that you might be allergic to or that might interact with prescription meds you use.

Sore Muscle, Pain & Fever Relief

  1. Tylenol (Acetaminophen) Commonly used for relief of pain and lowering fever. Effective for pain from dental issues and menstrual cramping. Excedrin is better for headaches. Works because it is acetaminophen plus caffeine. May be helpful for those who get headaches when they run out of coffee or caffeinated soda.
  2. Motrin (Ibuprofen) also brand name Advil. This is probably one of the most flexible of the pain medications. If you only have space/budget for one pain reliever, go with this one. Used for inflammation and pain but is also effective for relieving the pain of menstrual cramping, arthritis, gout, sinus pain, and backache. Can be very effective in relieving severe pain when used in combination with Acetaminophen.
  3. Aleve (Naproxen) Less common but effective for reducing pain and lowering fever. Naproxen is a longer acting medicine that can work well for muscle and back pain.
  4. Aspirin (Acetylsalicylic acid) and Baby Aspirin. Aspirin is less powerful than Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen but should not be given to children under 18. Baby aspirin can work to thin the blood and may help prevent future heart attacks. Keep in mind that taking a blood thinning agent during a SHTF scenario is not recommended unless necessary.
  5. Homeopathic Earache Drops or Tablets. These are great to have in your SHTF medication stockpile because as anyone knows, earaches can be extremely painful. While these drops/tablets will not cure an earache caused by bacterial infection, they will alleviate the pain until you can get medical help or antibiotics.
  6. Orajel/Anbesol Gel for toothaches, mouth sores, gum pain. It works as a temporary numbing agent when applied topically.
  7. Epsom Salts—very powerful laxative. Is also effective in a bath or soak tub for soothing sore muscles. Mix ¼ Epsom salt with ¾ water to create Magnesium oil to spray on the body. When it goes through the skin rather than the digestive system, it doesn’t have laxative effect but still increases magnesium in the body. Magnesium increases energy and mental clarity.
ibuprofen cortisone anti-itch cream

Allergy and Itch Relief

  1. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) Many moms will tell you that their home first aid kit is never without this wonder drug. It has multiple uses. Its main purpose is for relieving/reducing an allergic reaction and draining respiratory passages. Effective for coughing, sneezing, itching, runny nose, and other symptoms associated with allergies. Can make some people drowsy, especially children so pay attention to dosage recommendations and use with caution.
  2. Claritin or Alavert (Loratadine) Used for treatment of allergy symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and itchy or watery eyes. Loratadine does not cross the blood/brain barrier and thus should not cause drowsiness but may slightly slow reaction times. Some people find it works better than Benadryl. Zyrtec (Cetirizine) a different type of antihistamine. May cause some drowsiness as it can cross the blood/brain barrier. May be more effective for some than Claritin or Alavert.
  3. Hydrocortisone cream (1%) for itching and inflamed skin. Do not use on diaper area or children under two years of age unless instructed by a doctor. Do not use on skin that is infected, weeping, or scraped.
  4. Corizone-10 cream is effective for rashes and skin irritation, redness, inflammation due to insect bites, poison oak, ivy, or sumac. Relieves itching in the anal and genital areas but should not be used for diaper rash or on children under two years old.
  5. Lotrimin (Clotrimazole) can be effective for treating a multitude of yeast and fungal infections including ringworm, jock itch, yeast infections, athlete’s foot, diaper rash, and skin fold irritation.

Cold and Cough Symptom Relief

  1. Airborne Immune System Supplement Tablets (Zinc)
  2. Mucinex DM (Dextromethorphan, Guaifenesin) Great for colds that come with a lot of congestion. Up your daily intake of water for best results.
  3. Sudafed PE (Phenylephrine, Acetaminophen) Most effective for sinus pain and pressure but works like Dayquil.
  4. DayQuil/NyQuil or other Cold/Cough Medicine to treat congestion, sore throat, cough, and headache that accompanies cold or flu.
  5. Delysum (Dextromethorphan Polystirex) an anti-cough medication. Can produce allergic reactions in some children. May cause euphoria.
  6. Vick’s Vapor Rub has historically been used on the chest and neck of little ones and adults to soothe congestion associated with colds. Can also be applied topically to the bottoms of feet during sleep to ease nighttime coughing or applied to sore muscles for pain relief.

GastroIntestinal Relief

  1. Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth sub-salicylate) If your space is limited, Pepto Bismol is a good choice because of its effectiveness for a wide variety of issues such as heartburn, nausea, indigestion, and diarrhea). It could essentially eliminate the need for several other OTC meds if necessary.
  2. Imodium (Loperamide) Even with the best of plans, you and your family will likely see a radical change in your daily diet during a SHTF situation, especially one that extends over weeks or months. Imodium is the go-to medicine for diarrhea and will be especially important to prevent dehydration.
  3. Dulcolax (Bisacodyl) or another Laxative. A lack of available water is likely to cause constipation in you or family member. A laxative is great to have on hand just in case you or a family member experiences this problem.
  4. Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate) The goto medication for dizziness and nausea. Dimenhydrinate is an active ingredient that can cause extreme drowsiness. Look for a non-drowsy version that has meclizine as the active agent, especially if you have children.
  5. Zantac (Ranitidine) is just one of many treatments for stomach issues such as ulcers, heartburn, and reflux. It can be effective at relieving hives and soothe stomach upset that occurs from taking some medications such as ibuprofen.
  6. Tums (Calcium Carbonate) Even if frequent heartburn is not an issue for you and your family members now, it could become a problem in a SHTF situation when you are forced to eat whatever is on hand. May also be effective to treat calcium deficiency which could become an issue when food is scarce.
  7. Maalox (Magnesium Sulfate) is effective to soothe symptoms of acid reflux and stomach ulcers. Maalox has also been effective in soothing diaper rash.

Bleeding & Burns

  1. Burnjel Plus or Solarcaine (Lidocaine spray or gel) for rapid treatment of sunburns, heat burns, scalding, etc. It’s shelf-stable and easy to apply to just about any wound.
  2. QuikClot (Hemostatic Dressing with Kaolin) Gauze that promotes clotting to be used for external bleeding wounds. Liquid Bandage or NewSkin can also be handy for minor bleeding when traditional bandages are scarce.
  3. Neosporin (Neomycin and polymyxin B sulfates plus bacitracin), Polysporin (Bacitracin & Polymixin B Sulfate) or Bacitracin. Antibiotic ointments used to prevent or treat skin infection that can result from scrapes, minor cuts, or insect bites. Some people are allergic to the neomycin in Neosporin so if applicable choose Polysporin or Bacitracin instead.

Additional OTC Meds

  1. Saline solution to disinfect and rinse the eyes. Can also be used to irrigate wounds.
  2. Pedialyte is helpful to have on hand for rehydrating someone who has experienced extreme illness or becomes severely dehydrated.
  3. FishMox (Amoxicillin) or FishPen (Penicillin) can be purchased without a prescription through your vet or local farm supply store. These should be used sparingly but are good to have on hand as a last resort for infections.

Keep multiples of each OTC med in various locations such as your bug out bag, your car BOB, and your bug out location as well as in your home.

If you aren’t familiar with specific medication, do some additional research, talk to family or friends who may have used it and make sure it will work as you need it to when the time comes.


The information in this article is provided “as is” and should not be mistaken for or be a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your physician before trying any of the advice presented on this page. Always seek the help of a professional when delivering a baby. Neither the autor nor www.SurvivalSullivan.com or the company behind the website shall be held liable for any negative effects of you putting into practice the information in this article.

17 thoughts on “31 OTC Medicine to Stockpile”

  1. quite an extensive list of fairly expensive items to “stockpile” every one of these.. even if it is only averages $5 for each item that’s $155 for one of each item…

    1. I actually would never advocate that you buy one of each item on this list. That’s why the list is divided into categories. If you reread you will see I mentioned getting items from different categories and getting a variety of medications that will meet the potential medical needs of your family. And of course as I’m sure you know, some medications can be used for more than one medical need. Personally I would never stock antacid as I’ve never in over 40 years had the need to use it, other people use that regularly. It wasn’t intended as a shopping list, merely a list of items to consider stockpiling depending on your own need. Thanks for reading!

    2. Some people think you need all of the things on your list. I look at the list and think of what did me and my husband use in the last few years. It was only a few so, that would be our main source, anything else would be optional or for trading. Naproxen is the only pain reliever that helps us the other pain relievers are listed for you to select the one that works for you and so on. Depends on your unique situations and family type. We don’t have children so, several would not be needed. Preppers, should not read each word as a must and weigh out their needs, financial situation, and so on. My DR gave me some allergy tablet samples that I can add. I obtained a few things from a coupon that made an item free so, why not add it.

  2. A couple of neat things I want to mention about Vapo Rub. It is a great drawing ointment for stingers and/or splinters. Also, applied to fever blisters, it will kill those suckers fast.

    1. So will Purid (AKA black drawing) salve. A little goes a long way for treating what you mentioned and for blind pimples, etc…. Smells like creosote (a coal tar derivative).

  3. If you do it a little at a time, it isn’t too difficult to stockpile the entire list. We have in our supply most of the items on the list, more of some that would be used more often, less of what would not be quite as necessary as the others. There are a couple I hadn’t considered so this was helpful for that and to remind me of areas that needed more attention.

  4. I buy generics at stores like dollar tree, and any discount drug. Lots of great sites that explain things like expiration dates.. Alsodollar tree carries some name brands… Just a heads up.. I am always learning so I can help anyone who needs it…

    1. What a great question! It needs more research definitely. Coconut water works well as a replacement for those who have just donated blood so off the top of my head I would have to say it would be a good thing to have on hand in your first aid kit in case it’s needed. Keep in mind coconut water is not the same as coconut oil, coconut cream, or coconut milk. Folic acid is important for blood as is Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Lots of water. Wheat grass has chlorophyll that helps retain red blood cells and hemoglobin. I’m not a physician with any medical training, so please check with your personal physician about what might be good options in the case of rapid or severe blood loss from trauma though.

    2. STOUT – its what my mother used to strengthen and renew her blood. Also another to improve your blood – CHELATED IRON. Under no circumstances use Iron that Doctors prescribe it is dangerous and classed in natural circles as a heavy iron. Chelated is absorbed into the body quickly and is 100% safe if you are sensibly following the directions – one per day. At 30 days you can stop taking it for one month, then restart for another 30 days. Brings good Iron levels up quickly.

  5. Thelma Sorenson

    I’m always in a quandary about finding OTC meds for my low-thyroid problem, like Synthroid. I need to keep taking iit for the rest of my life, but don’t know what to substitute it with, OTC. Any suggestions?

  6. I am sorry if I sound a little skeptical of the coconut water but dosn’t it also have a side effect of diarrhea. In several article I have read that if no other source of drinking water is available to be careful of coconut water or milk on island survival or am I misinformed.

  7. Besides the expiration dates printed on each item, how about a list of those items with real time expiration dates, and yes I know a lot depends on the temperature items are kept. I know it a lot to ask but sometimes time flies faster than we wish it would. Thanks

  8. I see that I am not the only person that posts lists that are not always understood. Here is the more or less standard disclaimer I put with lists that are more than just a few items. It does contain a couple of specific references to specific types of lists, as well as my fiction, but I did not want to rewrite it. I figure that authors of lists can figure out what is important and what is not. Just as I stated in the disclaimer:

    A disclaimer: I have found in reaction to my lists and to my fiction, where quite a few items are listed, or the protagonist has quite a bit of money, they get anything from slightly annoyed to totally incensed with me. Thus, this disclaimer. It is much easier for me to include things in lists to give options, and have some (and only some) of my characters have money, than not.

    What I have found with one-on-one communication with many of the people that read the lists and the fiction inform me that they came up with a much cheaper way, or way to do something with less, because of their background, than what I have listed or the ‘rich’ guy was simply able to buy top of the line.

    The majority of my readers have proven themselves quite capable of taking the information I provide and adapting it to their needs, and to their budgets. With some really creative thinking that, without their experiences, I have no way of having.

    So, for those that think the list is too long, too involved, or too expensive, or too ‘trade post-ty, then that is the way it is. I will let the others glean what they can from it, and be happy if I have made it easier for someone.

    Just my opinion.

  9. Consider Lugol’s 2% Iodine Solution for emergency water treatment and salmonella poisoning. It’s cheap, lasts virtually forever in storage.
    Google it at the “Living Clean” site.

    Do the same thing for Potassium Permanganate. Disinfectant and when mixed with a little sugar or glycerin and some friction, you have a fire starter.

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