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Health essentials you should have for back-to-school season

A mother walking her young daughter to school

Our shopping guide has everything you need to help your kids feel their best this year.

Pens, pencils, notebooks. It’s time to shop for school supplies. It’s also a great time to stock up on things to keep your kids healthy all year long. The best part? Many of these items are eligible to buy with a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) payment card. (Learn more about HSAs and FSAs.) 

Not sure where to start? Keep reading. We’re here to make your back-to-school shopping easier.

Fill your medicine cabinet

With kids, it’s always a good idea to keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet. See if you’re low on any of these:

  • Pain relievers. Headaches, bumps and bruises or a low-grade fever are bound to happen now and then. Medications including ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help. But you should never give aspirin to children or teens. It's linked to a serious illness called Reye's Syndrome.

  • Seasonal allergy medicationsOver-the-counter options come in formulas for little kids to help ease sniffles and sneezes.

  • Stomach remedies. Keep antacids and antidiarrheal medicines on hand to tackle stomachaches.

  • Cold/flu medications. Viruses love when kids gather in groups. Be prepared for any colds or flu that make the rounds in school. You’ll also want to have some COVID-19 tests on hand.

Get all your health essentials for the whole family in one swoop at the Optum Store. Shop now.

Hit the field

Did you know sunscreen is HSA/FSA-eligible? And you can use it for outdoor activities all year round, not just in summer. If your child will be playing outdoor sports or spending time on the playground, slather on a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Look for one that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or higher. A stick is easy to tuck into a school backpack or sports bag.

And don’t forget the adhesive bandages to cover up those scrapes and scratches. Need a whole first-aid kit? We you have covered.

Prepare for picture day

School photos last a lifetime, and for today’s teens that means looking their best in print and online. Help them out by making sure they’re camera-ready with acne treatments that can help keep skin clear.

If your teen is looking for more skin help, consider LED light-therapy devices. Research shows that they can be a safe and reliable option as well.1 Learn more about how they work.

Take care of their vision

Your doctor will likely check your child’s eyes during their annual well-child visit. If it turns out they need eyeglasses or contact lenses, your HSA or FSA can help you pay for them. Same goes for contact lens solution and even eye drops.

Shopping basket
Save $15 when you spend $100

Stock up on your health care essentials at Optum Store. Use your HSA/FSA dollars to save even more. 

Stock up on menstrual products

It can take young tweens and teen girls a little time to get used to having a period. Making period kits with their favorite tampons, pads, liners and more can help create peace of mind. They can stash one in their backpack and one in their locker so they always have what they need. P.S. You can use your HSA/FSA card to buy them.

Support their mental health

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Starting a new school year can be stressful. Keep your student’s mental health on track with the support they need. Use your HSA/FSA funds to help pay for counseling services and, in some cases, virtual therapy if it’s not already covered by your health plan. (Find mental health resources from Optum.)

Buy back-up EpiPens

If your child has a severe allergy, you’ll want to make sure they have quick access to their medication. You can buy extra EpiPens® to keep with a school nurse and in your child’s backpack. 

Use your benefits

Going back to school isn’t just about the kids. Parents have needs, too. Flu shots, acupuncture, dental and chiropractic care all make the list of eligible costs. To explore more ways to use your HSA/FSA money, check out this handy tool.


  1. Lasers in Medical Science. Photodynamic and photobiological effects of light-emitting diode (LED) therapy in dermatological disease: an update. Published July 14, 2018. Accessed June 28, 2022.

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