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Update Your First Aid Kit

Thoroughly modern fixes for age-old summer ailments

Elias Stein

Cut finger while trimming the hedges

The Answer: Bandage 2.0

As we age, our skin takes longer to repair after injury, says Jeff McClusky, spokesman for the American Pharmacists Association. The classic fix might be Band-Aid gauze pads with a dab of Neosporin ointment. Or, choose thinner, more flexible bandages, such as Band-Aid Activ-Flex (about $7 for a box of 10) and Nexcare Soft 'n Flex ($3 for a box of 30). also try liquid or spray-on bandages, such as Curad FlexSeal Spray Bandage ($8) or Nexcare No-Sting Liquid Bandage ($7). For minor cuts, powder bandages like WoundSeal ($9) create an artificial scab. And Mederma Advanced Scar Gel ($12) has onion extract, which may improve scars.

Elias Stein

Burned elbow on the grill

The Answer: Double-duty patch

For hard-to-reach burns and scrapes, avoid some contortions — and some hassle — with a two-in-one bandage already supplemented with antibiotics. (They're especially good for older adults with poor vision or dexterity.) Try Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages plus Antibiotic ($5 for a box of 20) or Curad Performance Series Antibacterial Bandage ($4 for a box of 20).

Elias Stein

Twisted ankle playing tennis

The Answer: Stick-on support

A classic fix might be an Ace cold compress. But today elastic kinesiology tape ($9 and up) can be used to relieve pain in almost any joint or tendon, from sore knees to tender triceps. Also try: For temporary relief of back, neck, shoulder, knee and elbow pain, opt for a pain-relieving gel patch such as Salonpas Lidocaine 4% ($13 for 6 patches) and Lidocare 4% Lidocaine ($15-$21 per package).

Elias Stein

Sunburn at the beach

The Answer: Cooling pillow

In addition to the old standby lidocaine to ease sunburn pain, try the Chillow ($12) or the DINY Cooling Gel Pillow ($15), liquid-filled packs that you can insert into a pillowcase. They work by absorbing your body heat and dissipating it into the air, and will generally stay cool for two or three hours (and even after you've been lying on one for a while). Along with helping you sleep through the discomfort of a sunburn, they're great if you have a fever—or if you suffer from hot flashes.

Elias Stein

Bee-sting in the yard

The Answer: Anti-itch wipes

Topical Benadryl Itch Relief Stick (about $4) contains an antihistamine, and After Bite ($6) has sodium bicarbonate and ammonia; both can immediately stop itching. Sting-Kill disposable swabs ($6 for five) and wipes ($9 for eight) contain benzocaine, which can relieve sting-related pain. All these products also work for other summer bites and stings, including those from mosquitoes, jellyfish, fire ants and spiders. "Always wash a bite and remove the stinger before applying a product, to prevent infection," says pharmacist Stefanie Ferreri, a professor in the school of pharmacy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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