Skip to content

Information and Resources

First Aid Myths: Ignore These Summer 'Cures'

Experts share first aid tips while debunking some common home remedies.
Font Size
A
A
A

Myth: If You Twist a Knee or Ankle, Apply Cold Only

If you hurt a joint, what to do depends on the stage of the injury, Thornton says. The RICE acronym can help you remember how to immediately treat an injury. Rest the injured area, ice it for 20 minutes for the first 24 hours (remove for at least 20 to 40 minutes in between), lightly compress it with a bandage, and elevate over the level of the heart.

What about heat? "I don't apply heat if there is swelling. But if the swelling goes on a few weeks, you can try a contrast bath -- heat, cold, heat, cold," Thornton says. "If there is no swelling, heat may be soothing. Sometimes, before a workout, heat can warm up the area, too."

If you cannot stand or walk, you should seek medical attention.

Myth: Put Vinegar Compresses on a Sunburn

Acid on a burn? O'Brien cringes. "You shouldn't get a sunburn," he says. "But if you do, apply cool compresses. This is inflammation. Although I am a little reluctant to give everyone over-the-counter painkillers these days, I think ibuprofen is great for sunburn pain and inflammation." O'Brien says old-fashioned Noxzema also lowers the skin temperature. He's a fan.

Myth: If You Get a Bee Sting, You Must Squeeze Out the Stinger

Never do this! Squeezing the stinger may allow venom still in the sac to get into your system. "Scrape the stinger out with a credit card," O'Brien says. "Even those acrylic nails work, if they are clean." If the person is getting red or having trouble breathing, dial 911. This can be serious or even fatal.

Myth: You Need to Get the Venom Out of a Snakebite as Soon as Possible

Cowboys may put stock in sucking the venom out of a snakebite, but it is a huge no-no. "Do not use suction," O'Brien says. This can introduce more germs and bacteria. Also don't allow the victim to run for help, this speeds the tissue-destroying or nerve-paralyzing venom.

Remove tight clothing and rings from the victim and get to the emergency department immediately. Keep the affected area immobile and, if possible, below the level of the heart. "I don't even recommend tourniquets," O'Brien says. "People don't know how to use these."

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
build a better butt
How to build a better butt.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
psoriasis
How to keep flares at bay.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
spinal compression fracture
Treatment options.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.