First Aid Myths: Ignore These Summer 'Cures' (cont.)
Tip Sheet: What to Keep in Your First Aid Kit
Myth: Throw Your Head Back to Stop a Nosebleed
"Don't put your head between your knees or tip your head back," O'Brien says. The latter is especially bad because you can breathe the blood into your lungs or get it in your stomach and vomit.
"Press the fleshy part of your nose," O'Brien says, "and not the part where your glasses sit -- lower than that -- as if you are trying to stop a bad smell." Now -- and this is the important part -- press firmly for a complete 10 minutes by the clock. "People don't do that, they let up every three seconds to see if it stopped," he says. Ten minutes! O'Brien says there are also medications and little nostril plugs for people who get frequent nosebleeds.
If a nosebleed lasts for more than 15 minutes, occurs following a serious injury, or is accompanied by severe blood loss, you should call your doctor or go to the emergency room.
Myth: If Something Gets Stuck in Your Flesh, Pulling It Out Is OK
This may be OK, O'Brien says, if the object is small, visible, and near the surface. But this probably does not apply to errant fishhooks. "You can cut the end of those and pull them out, but it's hard to do," he says. "I have trouble sometimes with a local anesthetic and a scalpel. An embedded fish hook may earn you a trip to the emergency department."
If you do remove an object, like a thorn, wash the wound well with soap and water, dry it, and bandage. A puncture wound -- especially a rusty nail -- requires a tetanus shot if you have not had one in the last five years.
Incidentally, the embedded object may be holding in the blood. When in doubt, see your doctor.
Myth: For Cuts and Scrapes, Apply Peroxide and Leave Open to the Air
"I am not a fan of peroxide," O'Brien says. Some authorities even think it can kill the body's cells that are rushing to fend off intruding bacteria and germs trying to enter the wound. O'Brien prefers soap and water -- or just clean water -- to flush out bits of dirt and irrigate the wound. Even hose water will do.
"We go by clean, treat, and protect," he says. Clean a cut or scrape, apply antibiotic ointment, and bandage it. "Some people like to let wounds air, but I find they heal faster if they are protected. More importantly, if they are bandaged, the person, especially a child, will protect them better. You can't imagine how many times people will reinjure the same place! I see it all the time. Bandaging makes it less likely the wound will be reopened."
Any cut that goes beyond the top layer of skin might need stitches. Generally, the sooner stitches are put in, the lower risk of infection.
Myth: If You Get Shin Splints, Running More Will Ease Them