Can these home remedies treat injuries effectively?

Should you tilt your head back to stop a nosebleed? Can you soothe a burn with butter? Is rubbing a hard-boiled egg ov​er a bruise a good home remedy? No, replies Dr Lim Chin Siah, Consultant, Department of Emergency Medicine, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth​ group, to these first aid questions. Here are the facts, and the right solution, regarding some common first aid problems:

Myth 1: Soothe a burn with butter, toothpaste or ice

Fact: Applying butter or an oily substance to a burn injury can make it difficult for a doctor to treat the burn later. The butter will also increase the risk of infection. Toothpaste can also increase the risk of infection since it becomes unhygienic once the cap is removed from the tube. Ice may cause a sudden drop in temperature and shock the victim. It can also damage the skin tissue.

What to do: The burned skin can be soothed by running cool tap water over it for about 10 minutes. An antiseptic cream can then be applied to the burn. If the burned skin starts to blister, see a doctor.

Myth 2: Rub a hard-boiled egg over a bruise to ease blood circulation

Fact: Rubbing a hard-boiled egg over a bruise may cause even more internal bleeding.

What to do: The best home treatment is to apply an ice pack on the bruise; this will reduce the internal bleeding. The ice should not touch the skin directly since this can cause ice burn, similar to sunburn.

Myth 3: Squeeze the stinger to treat a bee sting

Fact: Squeezing the stinger will cause more toxins to flow into the bloodstream.

What to do: Quickly pull out the stinger with a pair of tweezers, then apply an antihistamine cream to the affected area.

Myth 4: Tilt your head back to stop a nosebleed

Fact: If you tilt your head back when you have a nosebleed, the blood may go into your throat and your stomach, which may lead to nausea and vomiting.

What to do: Tilt your head forward and press the fleshy part of your nose, the part you would hold for a bad smell, for a full 10 minutes, while breathing through your mouth. If you are still bleeding after half an hour, seek emergency help.

Myth 5: Use onion or garlic to revive a person who has fainted

Fact: There is no known medical benefit from doing this.

What to do: If you see somebody faint, let the victim lie down with the face up, and raise the legs to increase the blood flow to the brain.

See next page for 5 more myths and facts on home remedies​.

​Ref: T12

Check out our other articles on first aid:

Home Emergency Kit: What Every Home Should Have

Burn Injuries: Treatment and Tips

What to Do When Someone Collapses

When to Rush to the A&E (Accident and Emergency)?