First aid kits for people with MCS


If you have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity you may find that there are some items in standard first aid kits that you don’t tolerate and other things that you would find useful to add.

First aid kits come in a variety of sizes and with slightly different components according to their purpose, eg for at home, in the car or outdoor activities. Some are in metal or plastic boxes, others come in a nylon or vinyl soft case. You could check the contents of a standard first aid kit and replace or add to the items in it to suit your sensitivities. Empty metal and plastic first aid cases and cabinets, and soft first aid bags are available from some places that sell first aid supplies. You could fill one with first aid supplies that suit you, or you could use any container that you label clearly.

Here are some items that you may find useful:

First Aid instructions: Many first aid kits come with instructions. If the paper or ink is a problem for you, you may want to air them out or copy them onto tolerated paper. You can also print out instructions from the internet from websites such as or If you or a family member has a medical condition that may lead to a medical emergency, look for appropriate instructions and make sure you have the first aid supplies required. Although most first aid advice is the same around the world, look for information from your own country for local hazards, such as bites from poisonous spiders. Also remember that different countries have different emergency phone numbers.

Sterile saline solution can be used to clean and disinfect wounds or irrigate eyes. It’s available in ampoules or steritubes. You can also make your own at home:

Tolerated adhesive strips (eg Bandaids). Both adhesives and the strip itself (often vinyl) can cause reactions. You may find you tolerate some brands but not others. Elastoplast Sensitive Strips have a hypoallergenic adhesive on a soft fabric strip. If you don’t tolerate any adhesive strips, a piece of nonstick dressing held in place with paper first aid tape may be ok. Alternatively, you can make and sterilise your own dressings out of cotton fabric and hold them in place with cotton bandages:

Tolerated bandages Elastic bandages and tubular bandages can be prewashed and aired. If this isn’t enough to make them ok for you, it may help to put tolerated fabric between your skin and the bandage, eg wear a sock under an ankle bandage. You can also put tolerated fabric over the elastic bandage if necessary to reduce outgassing. For instructions on making your own bandages see:

Triangular bandage  These are packed so they can be used as sterile bandages as well as slings, but you may want to prewash one to remove the chemicals in the fabric. You can also use a scarf as a sling.

Tolerated natural antiseptic eg Medihoney, tea tree oil, paw paw ointment or silver dressings (eg Elastoplast Anti Bacterial Sensitive which has a silver wound pad). Note that although these are natural some people with MCS are sensitive to one or more of them. In products that aren’t 100% active ingredient, consider the possibility of reactions to the other ingredients.

Tolerated painkillers People with MCS can be sensitive to the active ingredients or to additives, eg colours or fillers, in particular brands.

Ice blocks in the freezer are useful for some injuries and stings. You can also store a wheat bag in a sealed container in the freezer to use as a cold pack. There are also instant ice packs that you can use away from home if you tolerate them.

Foil emergency blankets are made of aluminised polyester. They are designed to retain body heat in an emergency, but they are also useful for temporarily covering and sealing mattresses (eg in hospital).

Medications you may have an urgent need for, eg asthma inhaler or eye drops.

Tri-salts or other remedies you use for reactions See

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health professional and this is not medical advice. Discuss whether these ideas are appropriate for you with your doctor.

An earlier version of this article appeared in Sensitivity Matters December 2006


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