Monday, June 18, 2012

Superglue for Cuts, Toothpaste for Mosquito Bites

This week, I'm focusing on First Aid. It's in honor of my girlfriend, Jessie, who managed to literally injure herself from head to toe within six days.

We all know one guy (or lady) who seems indestructible. You know, the type of person who shows off a scar and has an amazing story to go with it. Something like, "I was walking down the street and I got attacked by an escaped rhino." And as we gasp in horror, imagining ourselves impaled on a horn, they shrug and say, "Eh, it wasn't that bad."

"And after he stuck me, I wrestled him to the ground with one hand."
These are the same kind of people would would have you "walk off" that broken leg, or "rub some dirt" in that cut.

Well, those suggestions are dumb. Following is a list of cheap, unexpected first aid treatments for minor injuries that really work. So the next time you're at a party with that person who's going on about how they cracked their head open and needed 12 stitches, you can say something tough like, "Oh yeah? Stitches? That's cool. Well, when I cut my hand chopping zuchinni the other day, I just superglued it shut and kept on cooking."


Superglue

No, I wasn't being sarcastic. Superglue is an approved FDA product for closing up cuts. Although the original formula for superglue was meant for manufacturing scopes for rifles, curious scientists discovered that the adhesive could bond skin to itself. In fact, specialized medics in the Vietnam War used superglue to seal wounds on the battlefield. Think about it: with the bullets flying, there isn't a lot of time to pull out a needle and sutures. So to stop bleeding in a pinch, a squeeze-tube of Krazy Glue beats a Do-It-Yourself Crochet Kit any day.

"Shh! We'll stitch you up, but first we need to knit you some mittens..."
Anyone who has ever used it can testify how superglue lingers on your skin for days. This long-lasting seal has also been proven to keep out infectious microbes, like the bacteria that cause a staph or Pseudomonas infection. But there's an important distinction to be made here. The stuff that comes in superglue, meant for household tasks, is the original formula and can cause burns to skin (ever notice how warm superglue gets?) If you're going to use glue instead of bandages, make sure you use something medically approved like Dermabond. The skin-safe version might not be as strong, but you won't ruin yourself in the process.

Come on, we're trying to be tough, not dumb.


Activated Charcoal

Imagine you're James Bond (I do it every day.) You're sitting across the table from Professor No-Good and General Badguy. Naturally, you're too busy being suave and British to notice that they've slipped something in that martini of yours. Poison! Uh oh. What do you do?

Nobody poisons Sean Connery. Nobody.
Well, you could suck on some charcoal. No, not a Kingsford briquette, but some activated carbon, available at any drugstore. Most people have heard about poisoned patients needing their stomachs pumped, but that only works for things swallowed in the last half hour. Activated charcoal can move past the stomach and soak up whatever is left in your intestines. It doesn't work on petroleum-based poisons (paint thinner, kerosene, etc.) or corrosive agents (lye, boric acid, etc.) But, for all the things it does treat, keeping it around certainly wouldn't hurt. Especially since it's only $8 a bottle!

The story is that in 1831, Professor Touery of the French Academy of Medicine demonstrated the power of activated charcoal. He stood in front of his fellows and drank strychnine - a lethal substance, even in small doses. He drank ten times the lethal dose, to the shock of his colleagues. When he didn't die, he told them his secret.

And his secret was that he was a double-0 agent.

Just kidding. (But maybe...)

DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME. Seriously. Remember, we're being tough, not dumb. I don't want to be held liable.


Toothpaste

As a kid, I had a terrible allergy to mosquitoes, causing bites to swell to the size of a quarter. One day in preschool, I wandered into a muddy patch and was mobbed by the bloodsuckers. I came crying back to the teacher with welts you could play "connect the dots" with. Instead of soaking me with calamine lotion or aloe, she reached for a tube of Colgate.

Whoa, wait just a second there, teach... My skin itches, but my breath is fine.

It turns out that some toothpastes have tricloson - a chemical that works as an anti-inflammatory. Not only that, but the menthol in the paste not only smells great, it's also a natural treatment for itching. Toothpaste has also been approved for treating burns, cleaning fingernails and shrinking zits!

Check out this awesome article for 15 uses for toothpaste!




Join me Wednesday as I detail some life-saving First Aid techniques!

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