The next time a minor summertime skin woe makes you miserable, take a trip to the pantry or refrigerator or the woods behind the house for natural solutions. You may find just what the doctor ordered. Many of these remedies evolved from folk remedies that have been used since the times of our wise grandmothers and great-grandmothers and many of them have now been validated by modern science.
Reach for medicinals right in your cupboards and find relief for:
Poison Ivy: Got itching? Get milk! Soak a handkerchief of piece of cheesecloth in ice-cold milk and hold it on your skin to soothe the itch and re-hydrate your skin. The coolness will soothe the irritation and the proteins in the milk moisturize your skin and take away the itch from poison ivy, eczema or any other itchy condition almost instantly. Better yet, try jewelweed. Just crush a little in your hand and rub it on the affected place. Rhus tox, a homeopathic, also is a great way to stop the spread of poison ivy when rubbed on in a cream or take internally.
Sunburn: Several pantry remedies will help relieve the pain and reduce the swelling of sunburn, say the experts. A paste of plain oatmeal and water will soothe the burn and help re-hydrate that parched skin. Oatmeal will also leave a slippery coating over the raw skin and protect your tender areas for relief that lasts several hours. Sunburn is like any other type of burn because the burn breaks the surface skin cells and causes them to blister and swell. If the sunburned area is small—say your forearm hanging out the car window – try a compress of crushed ice to cool the burn. Half a cup of vinegar added to a cool bath also soothes the pain quickly.
Burns: First run the burned area under cold water to stop the progress of the burn through the layers of our skin, and then apply a tea bag. The tannin in the tea draws out the inflammation and soothes the pain of the sunburn in minutes. If you’ve got an aloe plant on your kitchen windowsill, break off a leaf and squeeze the juice on the burn for instant pain relief. Plus the gel-like aloe juice protects and nourishes your damaged skin and promotes speedy healing—studies have shown it reduces healing time by one-third.
Bug bites: Mix meat tenderizer with water. Papain, the enzyme found in meat tenderizer and in papaya, breaks down the insect-injected proteins that cause itching, stinging and pain. Another easy kitchen remedy: Make a paste of baking soda and water. The alkaline baking soda will neutralize the acidity of the insect bite or sting and give your relief from the itching and pain within minutes. One more: Just press the outside of mug of hot water against the spot. Heat dissolves the proteins that cause itching. To prevent bites in the first place, rub basil leaves on your skin. It even keeps mosquitoes away.
Cuts and scrapes: Minor boo-boos are inevitable in the summertime – a scratch when you’re gardening, a skateboard spill. After you clean it, pour a dab of honey on the wound before you cover it with a bandage. One New Zealand study found that honey is capable of destroying almost all strains of common wound-infecting bacteria, probably by reducing the acidity of the injured tissue. Honey dries to form a natural bandage and several studies show that honey actually accelerates healing.
Kitchen remedies that can backfire on you
Most kitchen cures are old-time folk remedies that have survived through generations of good results, but there are a few that could be harmful. A few examples:
Burns: Crisco or butter will help hydrate your skin after a burn, but it doesn’t allow the free circulation of air to dry out the weepy blisters and help with healing.
Bee stings: Don’t pull the stinger out with tweezers; you may squeeze more venom into the puncture. Instead, flick off the stinger with a credit card or driver’s license.
Blisters: Don’t cut the tops off blisters – you’ll leave a gaping hole open to infection. Puncturing a blister with a sterilized needle is fine because it releases the painful buildup of fluid and collapses the blistered skin into a neat “bandage.”
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