Bring Your Own Bandaids- Part 3, by A.&J. R.

We are focusing on the supplies we will need in order to address the medical issues we are most likely to experience, whether we get to a “Bring Your Own Bandaids” clinic or we have to treat matters on our own. Our lists and discussion goes way beyond the first aid kit, and at the end of each section, we also note essential oils that may be helpful. We’ve already covered some pre-existing conditions and common injuries in Part 1. Let’s continue forward in our six-part article.


In this section we will take a look at some common skin conditions and injuries and how to treat them.


Hives are treated quite effectively with the usual anti-histamines like Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec. But they can also be managed with Zantac, Tagamet, and Pepcid. Corticosteroids can be used, if you have them on hand, but these are potentially life-saving medications that should probably be saved for more critical purposes. Essential oils to consider include German chamomile, yarrow, tagetes.


Abscesses are managed by lancing and draining and then keeping the affected area clean and covered. Essential oils to consider include lavender, tea tree, and chamomile.


Cellulitis, an infection of the soft tissue below the skin surface, will be a different matter. Any break in the skin, whether from cuts or scrapes, bites, cracks that developed from dry skin, et cetera, will allow the bacteria that are normally on the skin to go below and cause infection. Sometimes cellulitis will resolve on its own, but usually antibiotics are needed. This can be a life-threatening infection and should be evaluated by a licensed medical practitioner. Antibiotics generally prescribed for cellulitis (and other) skin infections include augmentin, cephalexin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and doxycycline. Essential oils to consider include lavender, tea tree, and helichrysum.

Dog Bites

Dog bites serious enough to necessitate medical attention affect almost one million Americans each year. Most involve the hands and face. In general, due to the penetrating nature of most bites and the high risk for infection, bites should not be sutured. Antibiotics used for infection are augmentin, penicillin, amoxicillin, doxycycline, and erythromycin. Essential oils to consider are thyme and lavender.

Cat Bites and Scratches

Cat bites and scratches are of particular concern. While superficial scratches are not so likely to become problematic, all deeper scratches and bites should be regarded as potentially infected. Most physicians would advise a preventive antibiotic treatment with augmentin, doxycycline, or erythromycin. Essential oils are again thyme and lavender.


Bee, wasp, and hornet stings do not represent a significant threat to 97% of the population and are successfully managed with topical anesthetics like lidocaine and oral antihistamines like Benadryl. Cold packs and acetaminophen may help alleviate pain. A little triple antibiotic may help prevent an infection. For the other three percent of people, however, insect stings can produce severe, even life-threatening reactions, especially if multiple stings are involved and even if there isn’t a history of anaphylaxis. They will require stronger doses of antihistamines as well as some epinephrine, preferably in the form of an epi-pen. Natural remedies for localized reactions include a baking soda paste. Essential oils to consider include helichrysum, tea tree, peppermint, lavender.


Impetigo is a skin infection most commonly found in children, usually on the face and extremities. Topical bacitracin or mupirocin (Bactroban) can be used for small areas of infection. Because impetigo is not only contagious to other people but also to other parts of the afflicted individual, the affected area should be covered and strict protection measures taken to prevent spreading the infection. If the infection covers a substantial portion of the body, oral antibiotics such as penicillin may be prescribed. Natural remedies include Gentian violet. Essential oils to consider include lavender, tagetes, myrrh.

Poison Oil, Ivy, and Sumac

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are best treated with oral and/or topical antihistamines. Natural remedies include apple cider vinegar, baking soda paste, Epsom salt baths, and chamomile tea bag compresses. Essential oils to consider include tea tree, lemon, lavender, peppermint, geranium, and chamomile.

Ringworm and Athlete’s Foot

Ringworm and athlete’s foot are caused by the same fungus. Both are commonly treated with clotrimazole (Lotrimin) and terbinafine (Lamisil), though tolnaftate and miconazole are also options. Fluconazole is used to treat particularly difficult cases. Essential oils to consider include tea tree and lavender.

Vaginal Yeast Infections

Vaginal yeast infections, which commonly arise after taking an antibiotic, are usually treated with clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin). Unfortunately, creams have a shorter shelf life. If you’re going to be placing an antibiotic order anyway, consider adding fluconazole to your list. It’s a little pricey, but only one pill is needed. Natural remedies include unsweetened yogurt, vinegar, cranberry juice, garlic, and Gentian violet. Essential oils to consider include lavender and tea tree.

Upper Respiratory Infections


In addition to your favorite cold remedies, consider acquiring some Sudafed. It’s still an OTC med, but due to its use in manufacturing methamphetamine, it requires a signature. Unlike many cold remedies, Sudafed works well in treating symptoms of upper and lower respiratory infections. Natural remedies include elderberry tea, licorice tea, Echinacea, apple cider vinegar, garlic, lemon, cayenne. Essential oils to consider include eucalyptus, ginger, thyme, lemon, tea tree, lavender, and peppermint.


As for other upper respiratory infections or sinusitis, Sudafed and Afrin are the OTC meds of choice for many doctors. If the sinusitis is bacterial (and this is a big if, as most aren’t), antibiotics commonly used are amoxicillin, doxycycline, and cephalexin, among many others. Even if it is a bacterial infection, most people with healthy immune systems can overcome the illness without antibiotics. Essential oils to consider include rosemary, thyme, peppermint, eucalyptus, and geranium.


Coughs usually go hand-in-hand with colds. Guaifenesin (Mucinex) is a very effective, very inexpensive expectorant to loosen chest congestion. For non-productive coughs, studies show honey is much more effective in calming a cough and helping children sleep than any OTC meds. If you are fortunate enough to have some Tylenol-3 or Vicodin on hand, ¼ of one pill has enough codeine to be an effective cough suppressant. Essential oils to consider include eucalyptus, thyme, tea tree, and lavender.

Strep Throat

Most of the time, a sore throat is just a sore throat, even if it is really sore and really red. Without a lab test you really can’t know for certain if you have strep throat. Remarkably, experienced physicians are right only 50% of the time when trying to diagnose a strep throat just by looking at it. ***Strep test kits*** are available and reliable, but they are a little pricey and have a short shelf life. As strep throat is much more common in children than adults and becomes even less common as we age.

Families with young children may wish to add strep test kits to their supplies. Antibiotics will be precious and you certainly don’t want to use them when they won’t do any good. Antibiotics commonly prescribed include penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalexin (Keflex), and erythromycin. None of the references consulted had any natural remedies or essential oil recommendations for treating strep throat. Some report that colloidal silver works well.


Most deaths from influenza are not from the virus itself but rather from bacterial pneumonia, a secondary infection that develops in a virus-weakened immune system. Antibiotics, specifically doxycycline or cephalexin, would be needed in this situation, but they are only going to work on the pneumonia, not the influenza. Limited studies on the efficacy of elderberry extract (Sambucol) suggest that it drastically reduces the severity of symptoms and duration of the illness. Essential oils to consider include tea tree, lavender, thyme, tea tree, eucalyptus.


Pneumonia is more likely to be viral in children. It’s more likely to be bacterial (and therefore, need antibiotics like amoxicillin, doxycycline, or cephalexin) in adults. Essential oils to consider include tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, oregano, and thyme. Kleenex and hand sanitizer will eventually run out. It would be a good idea to store plenty of handkerchiefs. There should be a generous supply of N95 masks for caregivers, and an even more generous supply of dust masks for patients to keep them from spreading droplets through coughs and sneezes to healthy individuals.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Now, let’s take a look at the various gastrointestinal issues that can plague an individual. We will look at traditional treatments and natural remedies, too.

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting afflict people of all ages due to a wide variety of causes. The symptoms can be treated with OTC meds such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), meclizine, and Pepto-Bismol; Benadryl; and Sea-Bands, which are elastic wristbands with a button that work by acupressure to reduce nausea. They were a lifesaver for me when I experienced severe morning sickness. Natural remedies include raspberry leaf tea, blackberry leaf tea, ginger tea, peppermint tea; honey and garlic; nutmeg. Essential oils to consider include coriander, lavender, ginger, peppermint, cardamom, fennel.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning occurs 1-6 hours after eating in the case of when food has been left out too long and the bacteria already have multiplied within the food, or 12-72 hours later, when the bacteria producing the toxin have reproduced within the intestines. The body usually handles food poisoning on its own. For more resistant bacteria, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin or azithromycin may be helpful. Natural remedies include castor oil, activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice. Essential oils to consider include geranium and lavender.

Clostridium Difficile

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) generally occurs in people exposed to other sick individuals (like a hospital or care facility) or people who have very recently taken antibiotics for another illness. The antibiotics kill off the good bacteria in the gut (which is why probiotics are recommended when taking antibiotics), allowing resistant bacteria to grow unhindered. C. diff bacteria produce a toxin that usually causes abdominal cramping, fever, and always diarrhea with an odor a bit different from that of normal diarrhea. Anti-diarrhea medications should not be used; the patient needs to get the C. diff bacteria out of his body ASAP. Lacking metronidazole (or very expensive vancomycin), fecal transplant may help. Don’t want to go there? Store metronidazole. A course of treatment is currently just over seven dollars at All Day Chemist.

Indigestion, GERD, and Ulcers

As we age, we become more likely to suffer from these afflictions. Dietary and lifestyle changes may help mitigate symptoms. Supplements and medications to have on hand include: calcium and magnesium; Tums and Maalox; ranitidine (Zantac), cimetidine (Tagamet), and omeprazole (Prilosec). If the foregoing medications are ineffective, having antibiotics like amoxicillin and (that’s “and”, not “or”; both are needed) metronidazole for treatment of possible H. pylori infection will be appreciated. Natural remedies include apple cider vinegar and baking soda for occasional indigestion, not ulcers; honey, and aloe vera. Essential oils to consider include coriander, cardamom, and dill.


Diverticula are small sections in the large intestine that can become blocked, somewhat like the appendix, and the symptoms are similar. Diverticulitis occurs mostly in the middle-aged and elderly and post-collapse will probably be most safely treated with a combination of two antibiotics, such as metronidazole, plus one of the following: ciprofloxacin, Levaquin, amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin), or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Essential oils to consider include peppermint, chamomile, rosemary, and clove.


Appendicitis is most common between the ages of 10 and 30, and about 7% of the U.S. population will experience it. Physicians in Europe have been treating appendicitis with the same combination of antibiotics as listed for diverticulitis. About 25% of the patients still had to have an appendectomy within a year, but 75% did not. So this treatment won’t work for everyone, but it may buy some time, especially if treated early. A few absorbable and non-absorbable sutures and sterile gloves will be desired in case of surgery.


Gallstones today are generally treated by removing the gall bladder, which is not likely to be an option post-collapse. Natural remedies to prevent future attacks include apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, peppermint, turmeric, dandelion root, and ginger. Essential oils to consider include lemon, lime, rosemary, and Melissa.


Constipation may occur for any number of reasons, including dehydration, poor diet low in fiber (MREs, anyone?), or antihistamine or opioid use. It is more common in the elderly and anyone taking drying medications. Magnesium supplements can help keep bowel movements regular. Our pediatrician recommended glycerin suppositories and mineral oil for two of our toddlers who frequently suffered from very hard stools. MiraLax, Ex-Lax stool softeners, and enemas are also useful. Essential oils to consider include rosemary, lemon, peppermint, thyme, geranium, and mandarin.


Giardia are protozoa found in contaminated water sources or occasionally food, and they are sometimes transferred by close person to person contact. Metronidazole is generally the drug of choice. Natural remedies include grapefruit seed extract. Essential oils to consider include basil, oregano, and clove.


Pinworms, roundworms, and other helminthic worm infections may rear their ugly heads when proper sanitation in the community diminishes. Pinworms spread by person to person contact, especially among young children, and all close contacts need to be treated. Roundworms develop when contaminated food is eaten. Other, less common worms have their various means of transmission. Albendazole, a veterinary dewormer, can be obtained (for vet use, of course) without a prescription. Natural remedies include pomegranates, papaya, pumpkin seeds, garlic, and grapefruit seed extract. Essential oils to consider include oregano, thyme, clove, lemon eucalyptus, lavender, niaouli, and cinnamon.


The aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which hadn’t experienced a cholera epidemic in over a century, resulted in nearly 92,000 cases of cholera within six weeks after it was first identified. Half of these were hospitalized, with a 2-3% mortality rate. Cholera is spread through contaminated water or food, not person to person. Effective antibiotics are doxycycline, azithromycin, erythromycin, and ciprofloxacin, and of course, boxes and boxes of gloves will be desired. Interesting tidbits of information: most cholera infections are asymptomatic; people who use antacids and those with blood type O are at greater risk. For more information, see the Haiti Cholera Training Manual: A Full Course for Healthcare Providers. Essential oils to consider include clove and sandalwood.

Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella bacteria, currently transmitted through food due to poor hygiene. Historically, it was also transmitted by feces-contaminated water. Most cases resolve on their own; some require ciprofloxacin or doxycycline. Essential oils to consider include thyme, oregano, clove, cinnamon, thieves, peppermint.


Diarrhea can be due to a common illness, cholera, or other unfamiliar diseases which will rear their ugly heads in a societal collapse. It can result from antibiotic use, not just because the gut flora has been disturbed, but also because of chemical interactions. OTC medications like loperamide (Imodium) and Pepto-Bismol should be stocked in abundance. (Tablets have a longer shelf life than liquids.) Numerous essential oils to consider include Roman chamomile, ginger, sandalwood, geranium, peppermint, tea tree, among others.


Dysentery is defined as diarrhea with blood, resulting from gastroenteritis. It can be bacterial, viral, protozoan, or parasitic in origin. Because laboratories may not be available to culture specimens for the specific cause, it is advisable to have metronidazole and ciprofloxacin in your supply. Dehydration is the primary concern; supplies for administering IV fluids are also desirable. Essential oils to consider include thyme, lavender, ginger.


Dehydration becomes an issue once a patient has had three liquid stools in a row. Fluid replacement is the remedy, ideally and most easily administered orally. Oral rehydration salt packets can be purchased or you can make your own. (To make your own, combine 6-8 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon salt substitute, and a pinch of baking soda.) Add to one quart of clean water. If the patient is unable to drink, hypodermoclysis, the subcutaneous administration of fluids, can be performed if you have the hypodermic needles and a little training. Administration of intravenous fluids requires special skills; hypodermoclysis does not. You can read more on hypodermoclysis online. Fluids can also be administered rectally using an enema bag. Essential oils to consider include lemon.

Tomorrow, we will look at teeth, eyes, ears, insect-borne diseases, and more.

See also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part one of a six part entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
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  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
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Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
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Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
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Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. Your article brought to mind a question. Is it true that diatomaceous earth taken internally will destroy different types of worms? I seem to remember this remedy, but would appreciate anyone adding their knowledge of actually working with this. Would like to know how much they used, how it was taken, etc.

    1. You know, I seem to recall hearing something like this as well, but I’m not sure I heard it from a physician. I came across a few websites that promote the use of food grade DE for worms. This is just one of them: We’re going to take another TEOTWAWKI medical course in August–one of us will definitely ask this question! We’ll post the answer here.

  2. Once again, very good. Exceptions to this are few, abscesses are likely to turn into cellulitis ad some practioners would classify them as the same. Anitbiotic choice might not be in the best order as presented. From my recent experience most cellulitis is caused by MRSA. Cepalexin would not work nor would Augmentin. Doxycycline could be used. People need to look up the various medications and be familiar witrh their uses and dosing requirements, Trying to use a limited supply by giving half doses could be useless unless your giving it to a very small person.
    Using the wrong antibotic is useless and a waste of a valuable resource.

    Cat bites are notorious for Pastruella. (look it up) Impressive swelling at the bite in a short time and augmentin is typically given, NOTE: DO NOT GIVE AUGMENTIN IF ALLERGIC TO PENICILLIN. augmentin contains penicillin.

    On diarrhea, Pro-biotics might be helpful and there are cases where you don’t want to stop the diarrhea as the intestine is trying to flush the bad stuff out. If you slow the flushing the germs will have more time to do their damage. I concur on the Imodium, loperamide is the generic name. They are cheap at the big box stores and you should stock a couple of thousand tablets.
    I believe the price may have recently increased on these, I recently bought 5 bottles and I think they were about $20 a bottle. 5 bottles was all they would let me get and i had to repeat the purchase on my next trip. I see they are u to $32 a bottle now.

    It might be worthwhile asking the pharmacist if you can do a bulk purchase of over the counter medications from behind the counter. Pharmacy’s frequently get their meds in bottles of a thousand and are sometimes willing to sell it at a reduced price. Doesn’t hurt to ask.
    I buy bulk loperamide for irritable bowel with diarrhea, it helps immensely, Benadryl 50 mg is a prescription item unless it is being sold as a nonaddictive sleep aid, Then it is over the counter.

    Hope this was heplful

    1. Something we noted in the classes we’ve attended and books we reference, practitioners sometimes vary in their approaches to managing problems. We also came across an article somewhere showing that there are regional differences in antibiotics prescribed. At any rate, this article was in no way intended to be a substitute for medical or nursing school, but more of a glorified shopping list with reasons why people might want to stockpile certain items. Ideally, supplies will be acquired from the most reputable sources and physicians will be available to advise on their proper use. Totally agree that using the wrong antibiotic is a complete waste at best and could be quite harmful.

      Pasteurella multocida is nothing to mess with, and most cats carry it.

      We think the reason that augmentin doesn’t make the list of antibiotics recommended by most prepper doctors to stockpile is that other antibiotics can do the job. It’s fairly expensive stuff.

      We purchased two bottles of 400-count loperamide at Sam’s Club last month for $5.48 each. They had recently been moved behind the counter. Didn’t have to sign for them, but apparently megadoses of loperamide are being used for opiate withdrawal. I looked just now for loperamide on Sam’s Club website, and couldn’t find any. Don’t know if anything’s up with that.

      Great idea about asking the pharmacy for bulk purchases of OTC meds. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  3. I am confused. In your first installment, you noted that after SHTF, many people with deep burns, internal wounds, and other severe injury will lack the modern medical technology we take for granted and will die. I think you even pointed out that we must prepare for the death of others.

    In the next couple parts, you suggest treatment for third-degree burns and other conditions that usually require hospitalization.

    You also have no mention of triage approaches to best manage scarce resources.

    So, what are we to do? Try to keep the severely burned person alive w/o realistic hope of long-term survival (Part 1)? Or?

    Yep, I’m confused.

    Carry on.

    1. A third degree burn with charred skin can involve a small area of the body, or it can be extensive. A third degree burn on the tip of the finger is going to be very painful, but quite survivable. A third degree burn covering just 10% of the body can be life-threatening. If it covers more than 30%, without advanced medical support, it’s probably a death sentence.

      We did not cover triage. Perhaps we should have. We approached this article from the point of view of acquiring supplies to care for our own family. We’d like to think that we’ll be in the correct frame of mind regardless of the situation and allocate resources appropriately. But if we’re down to the last of the antibiotics, with one course of treatment and two sick children, who gets to live? Or choosing between a spouse and a child? Choices between saving a family member with the items we procured ourselves or saving an outsider may be easier.

      Perhaps our idea is to prepare so well that none of our resources would become scarce–for our family. We can’t prepare for everybody else.

      Maybe others can weigh in on this. It’s a really important topic to discuss. But it seems there aren’t easy answers.

  4. Regarding selection of antibiotics, ask the local hospital’s lab or pharmacy for their most recent antibiogram which will detail the most frequently encountered bacteria and antibiotic susceptibility for your particular locale.
    Also get a used copy of Sanford’s guide which covers the most likely pathogens by organ and best medicine to use to treat infections.

  5. That’s what’s great about the Survivalblog community! People everywhere comment and offer such incredible information. We already knew that antibiotics prescribed differed a little by locale, but now you’ve shared with us how to find this information for our own areas. Sanford’s guide sounds like a great resource!

    Thank you!

  6. As one who is highly allergic to poison ivy and 6 years ago bought 15 acres of farm/woodland that had been vacant for the previous 2 years due to foreclosure, I am well versed in treating poison ivy rash and keep a Medrol dosepak on hand at all times. But I can promise you that like anything, prevention is much better than treatment. Stock up on Tecnu–an OTC soap that if used within a few hours of exposure will greatly lessen (or potentially eliminate, depending on your sensitivity) the following rash. It is available online in 32 oz bottles and well worth the cost.

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