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How to Create a First Aid Kit for Your College Student

Sending a student off to college? Here’s everything you need to create a complete dorm room first aid kit for your peace of mind!

Care to join me in my time machine?

We’re traveling all the way back to 1987.

I was a freshman in college in a small town in Virginia.

The closest convenience store was a 3 block walk down a big hill from my dorm.

And the closest grocery store or pharmacy required finding a friend lucky enough to have a car who could give me a ride.

Most of the time, this wasn’t a problem!

Until one night, when I woke up with severe chills.

And a pounding headache.

With my nose so clogged I couldn’t breathe.

Plus a nagging tickle that had me coughing.

I had no idea what my temperature was, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t 98.6!

The student medical center wouldn’t be open for another 6 hours, and my roommate wasn’t in our room that night.

I took some Tylenol because that’s all I had and tried to get back to sleep, but it didn’t do the trick.

As the night wore on, I started getting more and more congested, and my fever didn’t seem to be improving.

At four in the morning, I decided to walk down to the Hop In to get some Nyquil.

It was so cold out!

I was miserable.

When I finally went to the student health center the next morning, my temperature was 103.7, and I wasn’t feeling nearly as chilled as I was when I woke up the night before!

Who knows how high my fever had been?

Of course, I’m still here to tell the tale.

So let’s hop back in my handy dandy time machine and head back to 2021 (actually 2018 when my oldest left for college!).

When it was time to send my kids to college, I wanted to make sure they had everything they needed in their dorm room with them in case they woke up sick in the middle of the night.

So I put together a traveling “medicine cabinet” and sent it with them.

Be sure to check out everything we recommend packing for a college dorm or for a first apartment!

I’m not sure who this first aid kit was truly for: them or me.

Because knowing they had anything they might need if they ever got sick while they were away really gave me some peace of mind.

Let’s take a look at how I put their dorm room first aid boxes together.

collage with first aid supplies for a dorm room

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How to Make a First Aid Kit for the Dorm

This box of medical supplies is a great gift idea for anyone headed out to live on their own!

I started off with a container.

White plastic mesh box with a bamboo lid to hold first aid supplies and medications for a college dorm room.

These plastic tubs with a bamboo lid were perfect for my daughters.

I found them in HomeGoods, but have some similar options linked at the bottom of this post.

Rae Dunn metal first aid box with lid painted white with graphic of closed eyes on the side.

These cute tin boxes were another HomeGoods find!

I liked that they had a lift out tray and the bottom section is divided.

Overhead view into a tin first aid kit with lift out tray. The divided container is filled with bottles, and pill packets, thermometer, and other first aid supplies.

But my girls preferred the look of the white boxes with the wood lid.

Overhead view into a plastic shoe box filled with first aid supplies for a college dorm.

AnnMarie and I both used clear plastic shoe boxes for our sons when we made their first aid kits.

Ironically, they didn’t care what their portable medicine cabinet looked like… LOL

There are all kinds of great container options out there!

The most important part is to find something with a lid.

If the lid doesn’t stay on securely, be sure to tape it closed during move-in day.

We shared 20 more important tips to make move-in day a breeze if you haven’t moved your student in yet!

You’ll want their first aid kit to be portable so they can bring it with them easily if they end up having to quarantine due to Covid exposure or contact tracing.

You can get a complete list of everything to bring in case of a Covid quarantine at college here.

Tips When Purchasing Medication

Please note: We are not medical professionals! The items in this list are what I included for my children based on what we use in our home. Be sure to check with your doctor before using any kind of medication!

When you purchase items for a first aid kit like this, be sure to check expiration dates carefully.

Ideally, most of what you purchase should last for two years.

While I was shopping, I noticed the range of expiration dates for the exact same product varied as much as a year!

Medications aren’t cheap and it would be a shame to throw away unused product just because it expired too soon.

What to Include in a Portable Medicine Cabinet


I might have gone a little overboard with my daughters.

But in my defense, they both use almost everything that I included in their boxes at some point each month!

Overhead view into a plastic first aid kit. The container is filled with bottles, and pill packets, thermometer, and other first aid supplies. The names and uses of the medicines are written on the lids of the bottles.

I wrote either the contents or the purpose of each item on the lid or the bottom of each container.

This makes it easy for them to know what each bottle contains.

After all, I’m not going to be around to answer their questions, right?

I know, I know: cut the apron strings already…

But like I said, these traveling first aid kits are just as much for my peace of mind as they are for them.

Small zipper close baggie with cold/flu medicine pills. Instructions and warning are written on the baggie for easy identification.

I know my girls well enough to know that at least one of them might not read the directions on the side of the box.

So I wrote down the most important details on a ziploc bag.

We also talked about how if their fever isn’t going down with just Tylenol/acetaminophen, they can use Advil/ibuprofen at the same time.

Plastic storage container with lid filled with first aid supplies. Contents of the box and description of when to use the items is written on the lid.

I put their thermometers and alcohol swabs in a small container to make it easy to remember to clean the thermometer before using it.

There are some great thermometers out there that can just scan the forehead or wrist, but I’m old school and think an oral temperature is generally more accurate.

I could be totally wrong!

But this is what we use at home so they’re familiar with how they work.

Plastic storage container with lid filled with first aid supplies. Contents of the box and description of when to use the items is written on the lid.

Another container corrals bandages, antibiotic ointment, and hydrocortisone cream.

Yes, it bothers me that I misspelled “hydrocortisone” on that lid… and they’re already moved in so I can’t fix it!

Assorted medications and first aid supplies arranged around a plastic tub with a lid.

Their first aid boxes also include something for upset stomachs, heartburn, sore throats, allergies, immune support, cough, sleep aid, PMS symptoms, fiber, gas pain, swollen nasal passages, and dehydration.

And my daughter who gets migraines has a bottle with her preferred migraine relief.

There’s a complete list of everything I included at the bottom of this post.

There’s also some hydrogen peroxide which is great for cleaning wounds and also for blood stain removal.

Tube of Aquaphor healing ointment on wood table

Another family favorite that was tucked in each girls’ box is a tube of Aquaphor ointment.

This is truly the best way to treat and prevent chapped lips: use it every night to prevent that red ring from licking your lips!

We used to call it the “red ring of shame” when my son was little…

If you’re sick and blowing your nose a lot, dab some around your nose holes to prevent them from getting chapped too.

And it’s great on your hands when you’re washing them frequently.

Which they should definitely be doing when they’re sick, right?

Everything I Included in This Dorm Room Medicine Chest

We are not medical professionals! The items in this list are what I included for my children based on what we use in our home. Be sure to check with your doctor before using any kind of medication!

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collage with first aid supplies for a dorm room or first apartment

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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Pinterest graphic for college dorm first aid kit


Sunday 3rd of July 2022

This is a great list. I’m starting a kit for my daughter who is leaving for college in August. I’m planning to also add a cold pack (the kind you break and it gets cold), ace bandage, and Vick’s vapor rub.


Monday 4th of July 2022

Those are great ideas to add to her first aid kit. Thank you so much for sharing them with us & our readers.


Sunday 26th of June 2022

Great list. I would add, for girls: UTI treatment and/or DMannose (natural UTI treatment) and an anti fungal.


Monday 27th of June 2022

Those are great additions! I'm going to add those to the list (and also need to check out the DMannose for my daughter!). Thanks so much for checking out our post and taking the time to share your ideas. It means so much to us!

Dirt Road Adventures - Dog Days of Summer - The Ponds Farmhouse

Sunday 22nd of August 2021

[…] you have a college student you will want to check out How to Create a First Aid Kit for your College Student by Simply 2 […]

Rachel Harper

Thursday 19th of August 2021

This is a great idea. I plan to share a link on my Sunday Dirt Road Adventures.


Thursday 19th of August 2021

Thanks so much Rachel...we really appreciate you sharing our post.