Feature Archive

First Aid Myths: Ignore These Summer 'Cures'

Experts share first aid tips while debunking some common home remedies.

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith

Softball in the eye? Don't reach for a raw steak!

Summer, with its whirl of sports and outdoor activities, can produce an appalling number of minor injuries, but you can make matters worse if you follow wacky, outdated advice and don't know the correct steps to take.

Myth: Put Butter on a Burn

"Ludicrous!" Richard O'Brien, MD, an emergency medicine physician at the Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pa., tells WebMD. Grandma's tried-and-true remedy of slapping butter on a burn is just adding unclean, foreign proteins.

Second- and third-degree burns -- when the skin is blistering or white and without feeling -- need to be treated by a doctor. First-degree burns -- when the skin is red but feeling is still normal -- can be treated at home.

"You need to cool a minor burn," O'Brien advises. "Run cold water on the burned area for at least 10 minutes; then apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment." Put a cloth over that, he says, and then you can apply another cold compress for pain control. A bag of frozen veggies works nicely. Never put ice directly on the skin.


Tip Sheet: What to Keep in Your First Aid Kit

Myth: Throw Your Head Back to Stop a Nosebleed