First aid hacks with household items
In this Covid-19 climate, we’re all prioritising health and safety, but minor accidents and injuries still happen to the best of us. And even though we’ve just surfaced from Phase 2 (HA), we don’t want to be flocking to our doctor every time we scald or nick ourselves.
Instead of slapping on a plaster and calling it a day, levelling up your first aid skills can help to prevent minor injuries from escalating further and getting infected. Here are seven first aid hacks with everyday household items and ingredients that may help you treat minor injuries at home.
Disclaimer: It is always recommended that you seek professional help if your condition is serious or doesn’t seem to be improving.
1. Use honey on cuts to prevent infection
Peep any “natural first aid kit” list online and it’s almost certain that you’ll find honey on the list – and for good reason. Nature’s cure-all, honey has antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, and has even been said to be better than conventional treatments when it comes to small wounds and burns.
To use it, simply apply a thin layer of honey on your skin, followed by a plaster to keep the sticky substance from smearing everywhere. Manuka honey works the best on wounds as it has stronger antibacterial properties and the most health benefits.
Fun fact: Honey has even been used for skin grafting and is known to greatly reduce patient pain.
2. Apply regular craft glue to remove splinters safely
Not only are disposable chopsticks terrible for the environment, but prying them open can also lead to nasty splinters getting lodged in your hands – a lose-lose situation. Leaving the splinters in can be extremely painful and while you may be tempted to use a pair of tweezers to pry it out, this can do more harm than good.
Applying pressure on your skin can cause the splinter to break into smaller pieces and get wedged even deeper in. This introduces foreign bacteria into the wound site and can also lead to nasty infections.
Instead, just apply a thin layer of PVA glue on the affected area, wait for it to dry, and peel it off in the opposite direction that the splinter went in from. Think waxing, but much less painful.
3. Scrape a credit card on the skin to remove bee stingers
Getting stung by a bee can happen to anyone, especially if you’re one with nature and like to hit up spots like the Green Corridor and MacRitchie Reservoir on the weekends. If you ever find yourself with a bee stinger lodged in your arm, the most important thing to do is to remove it to stop the flow of venom from entering your body.
After ensuring that your skin is taut, simply use a flat and thin surface like a credit card to scrape the surface of your skin until the stinger comes out. Never use tweezers to do the job as squeezing the stinger can cause more venom to be released into your skin, leading to swelling and pain.
If you notice any swelling or pain even after applying a cold compress, it’s probably best to head to a hospital’s A&E to get it checked out.
4. Wrap plastic wrap over a burn to prevent infections
Contrary to popular belief, using toothpaste is not recommended for burns.
Getting burned by a scalding hot pan is already painful enough, but without proper and immediate treatment, the wound can even blister and get infected – not fun. Thankfully, cooking-grade plastic wrap has been recommended as a proper acute burn wound dressing in the Emergency Management of Severe Burns course so it’s great to have some on hand.
To prevent your burn wound from getting infected, run your wound under some cool water and immediately wrap it up with plastic wrap to prevent the spread of bacteria. If the affected area is large, hopping down to the A&E of any hospital as soon as you can will help greatly in preventing blisters from forming and will save you from a lot of pain.
5. Apply an oatmeal paste onto insect bites to relieve the itch
The months of June to October are infamously known as the high point of dengue season. And if you’re one of those with “sweet” blood, constantly at the mercy of mosquitos, then you’re probably familiar with the unbearable itch that only scratching can quell.
This, however, can actually be counterproductive as scratching the already irritated area can increase the inflammation of your skin, which only makes the bite itchier. Plus, your mosquito bite can even get infected if your skin breaks from all the scratching.
Instead, try using oatmeal to soothe your mosquito bite. With both anti-inflammatory and moisturising properties, oatmeal is able to calm your skin and get rid of the pesky itchiness.
One easy way to use oatmeal is by mixing it with equal amounts of water to form a paste. After you get a nice and thick consistency, just apply it onto the bite and wipe it off after 10 minutes. If your whole body is covered in bites, however, taking a bath with around one cup of oatmeal added in can be an easy and effective remedy.
6. Chew on ginger to alleviate nausea and vomiting
Ginger doesn’t have the most pleasant taste, IMHO, but it’s extremely powerful if you’re feeling nauseous. Used for thousands of years, ginger has active ingredients like gingerols and shogaols which makes it an effective antiemetic a.k.a. an anti-vomiting drug.
The easiest way to get some relief is by chewing on a slice of ginger, but it can also be consumed in other forms like through ginger tea or even through ginger candy. Better yet, this remedy is all-natural and great for pregnant women who are experiencing morning sickness.
7. Apply coconut oil to soothe toothaches
There’s nothing worse than experiencing a toothache and realising that all the dentists are closed, talk about unlucky. But if the pain isn’t too severe, there are some easy ways to help tide you over until you can visit the dentist.
If you’re looking for an all-natural method to help subside your tooth and gum pain, coconut oil is just the solution for you. Not only is it antibacterial and antiviral, it’s also anti-fungal, antiprotozoal, and can even enhance your immune system.
Gently massaging coconut oil onto the affected area is a great way to experience its benefits but if you have a little more time on your hands, you can even try oil pulling, a traditional teeth cleaning method. All you have to do is swish a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for a few minutes and you’ll not only experience pain relief, but you’ll also get whiter teeth in the long run.
Home remedies and first aid hacks
Most of us probably have most of these products just sitting around at home, which makes these remedies great if you’re in a pinch and need first aid, stat. While these home remedies are safe and scientifically proven to be effective, other treatment may be needed if these natural remedies don’t seem to be good enough.
Seeking immediate medical help at Mount Elizabeth Hospitals’ Accident & Emergency
Even though binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy may leave us feeling like a class A doctor, it’s probably a good idea to heed professional medical advice from actual pros like the medical specialists at Mount Elizabeth Hospitals’ Accident & Emergency (A&E) 24-hour clinic.
Most of us probably know A&Es for their infamously long waiting times which is why Mount Elizabeth Hospitals’ Accident & Emergency (A&E) is a godsend when you’re in acute pain or are in a hurry. The average wait time for a non-emergency patient is 30 minutes and you can even call ahead of time if you want to speak to a preferred specialist.
Open 24 hours a day, you know you can rely on Mount Elizabeth Hospitals’ A&E for all your ailments, even if disaster strikes at an odd time of day. While trying self-remedies may be good for minor injuries, you should head straight to the A&E if you have any of these conditions:
- Chest pain or heart attack
- Sudden and severe shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Severe burns
- Significant head injuries
- Acute pain
Going to hospitals may be daunting, especially with Covid cases still on the rise, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health. If you are unable to head down by yourself, Mount Elizabeth Hospitals are supported by Parkway Emergency which provides all sorts of ambulance services for both emergencies and non-emergencies so you can get the help you need, ASAP.
Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard)
Address: 3 Mount Elizabeth, Singapore 228510
Telephone: 6731 2218
Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital
Address: 38 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore 329563
Telephone: 6933 0100
This post was reviewed by Dr Samuel Low, clinical director, IHH Healthcare Singapore and brought to you by Mount Elizabeth Hospitals.
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