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Home Remedies: Magic or Myth?

Mar 22, 2017 02:00PM ● By Caley Breese
By Caley Breese

Don’t you hate it when you’re baking a yummy batch of cookies and you graze your hand on the oven rack when going to take them out? It can be frustrating, painful, and really irritate your skin.

Probably the first thing you want to do is reach for some ice to soothe your skin and relieve the pain. But what if you’re actually making it worse when you do that? The truth is, some of our most popular home remedies just aren’t effective, and in some cases can even make the situation worse, whether you’re trying to soothe a burn or treat a pesky pimple.

Here are some familiar home remedies you may want to think twice about before employing.

Toothpaste on pimples


You have probably heard about this home remedy that has been around for years. The trick is, you put a little bit of a white-colored toothpaste on the affected area at bed time, and some of the ingredients in toothpaste, like baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, supposedly dry out and shrink the pimple while you’re sleeping. However, this spot treatment may end up making matters worse and irritating your skin by causing redness and peeling. It can even over-dry your skin and cause an uncomfortable burning sensation, leaving skin very sensitive with possible long-lasting dark spots. When it comes to acne, it’s best to do an over-the-counter treatment that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, or go see your dermatologist.

Spicy foods to induce labor


There are several old wives’ tales for pregnant women to try, in hopes of speeding up the labor process. Eating spicy foods is one that is very common; however, despite what you may have heard, it doesn’t actually work because there is no straightforward connection to the stomach and the uterus. For most women, this spicy foods trick may only give them indigestion. Although you may become uncomfortable toward the end of your pregnancy, it’s best to just let things happen naturally so as to not endanger your baby’s life or your own.

Ear candling


When it comes to home remedies, it seems as though people will try anything—and this alternative medicine practice, which dates back to the days of the Mayans, uses a narrow hollow candle that is inserted into the ear canal and then lit at the opposite end. Heat from the lit candle then travels down the ear canal to melt the wax. However, ear candling can be dangerous and result in some serious repercussions. While it may melt the ear wax, there’s no way to suck it out. Additionally, you can burn your eardrum or your ear canal (or even another body part—it is by your head after all!) You are also at risk of potentially losing your hearing by puncturing your eardrum if you are not careful. Even though ear wax can be an itchy pain sometimes, it’s good for our ears because it’s a natural lubricant that helps protect the inside from ear infections, along with waterproofing the ear. If you feel like you may have an excessive build-up of ear wax, do the safe thing and see your doctor about it.

Butter for a burn


Immediately slathering some butter on an area of freshly burned skin may sound soothing, but it can make matters much worse. Although the butter may feel like it has a minor cooling effect, it is not sterile and could end up infecting the burn from the bacteria in the butter, really causing irritation to the skin. The grease will end up slowing the release of heat from your skin, therefore worsening the injury. Depending on how severe the burn is (if it’s third-degree, a trip to the hospital may be your best bet), run the affected area under cool water for 15 to 20 minutes to reduce pain and swelling; additionally, icing a burn is not recommended either.

Attempting a quick home treatment might seem like a good idea to cure a small injury or problem and to avoid going to the doctor. However, it’s important to remain cautious and do your research on which home remedies help and which home remedies make you call for help!

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