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First Aid Myths: Ignore These Summer 'Cures'

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

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."

Myth: People May Swallow Their Tongues During a Seizure

It's commonplace in movies. Someone has a seizure and a passerby sticks something in the patient's mouth so they don't swallow their tongue and block their airway. "People can control their own airway," O'Brien says. "Don't stick anything in there." If the person is outside, let him or her roll around on the ground. It's OK.

When a person is having a seizure, don't hold the person down as this can result in injury. Just remove sharp objects -- glasses, furniture etc. -- from around the person to prevent injury.

Myth: If You Get Motion Sickness, You Can Stop It by Staring at a Point on the Horizon

You could try staring at something, O'Brien says. "But when you see someone who is sick, don't they usually have their eyes closed?" Try to get to the most motion-free part of the boat or vehicle and don't drink. You will just vomit up the fluid. If you are prone to motion sickness, take Dramamine. It may make you drowsy, but if you are sick, you don't want to drive anyway.

Myth: Poison Ivy Is Catching

Poison ivy is an allergic reaction to an oil called urushiol, released when the leaves of the poison ivy or poison oak or sumac are brushed or crushed. Usually, nothing happens the first time. The big fun comes on the second exposure. Within 15 minutes, the oil binds to skin proteins. If you can rub it off with alcohol or plenty of cold water, the rash can be avoided. It is not contagious, no matter how icky the rash looks. Scratching the blisters also does not spread it, but while you still have the oil on your hands, you can spread it.

Calamine or Burrows solution can calm the blistery rash. An antihistamine like Benadryl can ease the itching or at the very least, will allow you to sleep through it. A cortisone cream can help soothe the itching as well. In severe cases your doctor may prescribe cortisone medication by mouth.

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