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5 Home Remedy No-No's

From ear candling to colon cleansing, here are 5 home remedies that may do more harm than good.

Home Remedy No-No Number 2: Whiskey for a Teething Baby continued...

So put the whiskey bottle away, and instead, reach for the freezer.

"The best thing you can possibly do is to chill a teething toy in the freezer and give it to the child," says Alexander. "The cooling effect on the gum will both soothe and numb it."

Or, if the child is old enough, use a sugarless ice pop, with adult supervision.

"For centuries, teething has been a concern to parents," says Alexander. It can cause salivation, irritability, and problems with sleep. If symptoms are severe, then see a doctor.

And the same rule applies for adults: If you have a toothache or tenderness in the gum, whiskey won't help. Instead, a cavity deep in the tooth or a gum infection could be causing the pain, making it time to see a dentist.

Home Remedy No-No Number 3: Butter for a Burn

While you might be of the opinion that butter makes everything better, it's important to remember that this rule applies to food, not burns.

"Butter might offer modest value for a burn by having a slight cooling effect, but it tends to melt due to body heat and there is a risk of infection because it's not sterile," says Robert Sheridan, MD, a surgeon in the burn units of Massachusetts General Hospital and Shriner's Hospital for Children.

For mild to moderate first-degree burns and second-degree burns limited to an area no larger than 3 inches in diameter, Sheridan recommends an over-the-counter antibiotic burn ointment. Gently apply it to the burned skin, and keep it covered for cleanliness. You can also try ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help alleviate pain.

Cool tap water can also help, but only in the first minute after you're burned, explains Sheridan. Any greater length of time and the damage is already done. If you're near a faucet, run the burn under water for at least five minutes.

Other burn no-no's: Toothpaste is a common home remedy that Sheridan often hears about in the burn unit, but again, it offers no benefit other than a slight cooling effect, and the same infection concerns apply. Also, while it might make sense to treat a burn with ice, it doesn't help, and it could make matters worse.
"If a burn is deep enough, it can cause a loss of sensation around the wound," says Sheridan. "So ice can compound the problem by adding frostbite to the burn because you can't tell that it hurts."

When should you call for help? If you're worried about a burn; if you have a fever; if you have moderate to severe pain or no pain at all as a result of a third-degree burn; or if there is increasing redness around the wound.

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