Butter for burns and steak for black eye?

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Know the facts regarding some common first aid problems (Thinkstock photo).

Should you tilt your head back to stop a nosebleed? Can you soothe a burn with butter? Is rubbing a hard-boiled egg over a bruise a good home remedy?

No, replies Dr Lim Chin Siah, Associate Consultant, Department of Emergency Medicine, Singapore General Hospital (SGH) 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, ice

Fact: Applying butter or an oily substance to a burn 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.

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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: Treat a black eye with a raw steak

Fact: The raw meat will only serve to infect the eye with any germs in the meat.

What to do: Apply ice wrapped in a clean towel to the eye area to reduce the swelling. Don’t place ice directly on the affected area since this can cause an ice burn, similar to a sunburn. See a doctor to check for head injuries.

Myth 4: Apply heat to a sprain or fracture

Fact: Heat increases swelling and can prevent the injury from healing.

What to do: Apply an ice pack to the injury, and make sure the ice doesn’t touch the bare skin.

Related video: How to treat an ankle sprain

Myth 5: 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.

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This article was written by Anjana Motihar Chandra for Health Xchange, with expert input from the Department of Emergency Medicine, Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

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