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Common Household Items Double as First Aid

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Did you know that many of these common household items double as first aid for skin irritation, scrapes, bumps, and bites? Some can be used right off your shelf; others can be mixed with herbs so they work even better. For instance, adding one or two drops of Lavender essential oil to any of these remedies will provide extra relief. You could add 30 drops of an herbal extract such as Echinacea or Calendula to each 1/2 cup of the spray mixtures, or to the cucumber remedy. Caution: Don’t be tempted to use ice on burned skin, as it can further damage traumatized tissues.

Alcohol: Use as a spray for poison oak or ivy. Alcohol dries up watery blisters, cools overheated skin, and may also relieve itching. Of course, alcohol is a classic for cleaning up cuts and scrapes.

Aloe Vera: Everyone should have this healing plant in the house. It’s a must to soothe and heal burns and is also effective for hot, itchy skin. Cut off a lower leaf, slice down the middle, and apply the cooling gel to your skin. If you buy a pre-packaged gel, make sure it has no lanolin added. Lanolin may intensify the heat of a rash or burn.

Apple cider vinegar: Make a 1:1 solution of water and apple cider vinegar and put in a spray bottle. Use on rashes or burns. For even more relief, chill the bottle in the refrigerator.

Baking soda: Add 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda to a tepid bath and soak 20 minutes to comfort sunburn or itchy rashes. A baking soda bath also makes the skin feel smooth and moist.

Black tea: Black tea tightens and dries “weepy” skin and relieves swelling. Steep 15–20 teabags in a hot bath, and let the water cool down to tepid. Remove the teabags and soak 20 minutes in the bath.

Cucumber: Peel and liquefy a cucumber in a blender or food processor and apply the slurry to burned or hot, itchy skin. You can also use cold cucumber slices directly on your skin.

Oatmeal: Place a cup of oatmeal in a large muslin bag. Run a hot bath and let the bag steep in the water until it cools to tepid. Soak for 20 minutes to relieve heat or itching.

Witch hazel extract: Rub this astringent onto bumps as soon as possible to prevent bruising. Witch hazel extract should be in every medicine cabinet—pick it up at any drugstore.

Yogurt: Apply a thin layer of plain, unsweetened, full-fat yogurt to your skin to soothe, cool and restore the proper pH balance. Rinse off before it dries completely.


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