Weird and wonderful health cures for kids
Not all old treatments are urban myths. MATTHEW BARBOUR looks at the ones with a solid track record for effectiveness
TWO in five mums use old wives’ treatments to treat their kids’ ailments, research shows – such as putting raw meat on a wart or verruca, rubbing a wedding ring on a stye, or using breast milk to clear up conjunctivitis. Here are 13 worth taking a closer look at...
HOME CURE: Duct tape USE IT FOR: Warts
COVERING warts with duct tape works better than freezing them off, according to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
In the study, the duct tape zapped 85% of warts after two months, compared with 60% with the freezing method.
Clean the area then cut a piece of duct tape slightly bigger than the wart, and stick it on firmly. Every three days take the tape off, file down dead skin with a pumice stone or nail file, and repeat until the wart disappears.
HOME CURE: Vodka USE IT FOR: Smelly feet
IF TAKING your kids’ socks off causes houseplants to wilt, wipe them with a vodka-soaked dishcloth. It’s the same principle as rubbing alcohol.
Alcohol is antiseptic and drying, so it destroys odour-causing fungus.
HOME CURE: Listerine USE IT FOR: Blisters
THE classic breath freshener – and powerful antiseptic – can also do a number on blisters when kids are wearing in their new school shoes. Moisten a cotton ball with Listerine and dab it on the blister three times a day.
HOME CURE: Banana peel USE IT FOR: Bruises
ON top of many other uses – including whitening teeth and easing the pain of haemorrhoids – the humble banana can also heal bruises in half the time.
Apply a ripe peel to the bruise, tie it on with a bandage or tape, and leave overnight. The manganese, magnesium and potassium helps blood flow through the vessels under the skin, flushing away the coloured toxins.
HOME CURE: Torch USE IT FOR: Splinters
SKIN is translucent, so shining a torch lets you see the angle the splinter is at and how deep it is, says Simon James, first aid trainer with the St John Ambulance.
Do it in a dark room, place a torch directly against the skin about 1cm on the other side of the splinter, get your eyes down to skin level and pull it out with sterilised tweezers.
HOME CURE: Olive oil USE IT FOR: Earache
EAR drops sold at pharmacies can soften wax, but many contain household staples such as olive oil or bicarbonate of soda, says GP Dr Fiona Sankey. “Olive oil can do the job just as well, though don’t do this if you have a perforated eardrum because it could cause infection.” Again, consider using bicarbonate of soda – dissolve half a teaspoon in a beaker of water before inserting it into the ear with an eye dropper, which can be bought from a chemist. Stubborn build-up may need cleaning by your GP.
HOME CURE: Ice cubes USE IT FOR: Toothache
IF THE pain is throbbing but the tooth isn’t tender, the nerve through the tooth could be infected. As heat can worsen inflammation, ice might help reduce that swelling and relieve pain. While minor infections may clear by themselves, you’ll need to see your dentist for treatment to prevent the pain becoming continuous.
Don’t put aspirin, clove oil or anything else against the gum – it will probably burn it.
HOME CURE: Sudocrem USE IT FOR: Burns and spots
MANY associate Sudocrem with treating or preventing nappy rash, says Dr Hady Bayoumi, a consultant dermatologist at the Spire Bushey Hospital.
“But it can be used for all types of skin issues,” he says.
The cream is an antiseptic, inhibiting infection and keeping bacteria out of the wound. “It’s also good for cuts, spots, minor burns, chilblains, minor bedsores and sunburn.”
HOME CURE: Ground pepper USE IT FOR: Cuts
STUDIES show a component of black pepper, called piperine, has strong antibacterial properties, which would suggest it is helpful for healing. It also forms a crust over a cut to keep it clean.
“Adding ground pepper to small cuts helps blood coagulate for faster healing, while simultaneously killing lingering bacteria and reducing scarring,” says Cathy Wong, author of The Inside- Out Diet.
HOME CURE: Onion USE IT FOR: Wasp stings
RUBBING a slice of onion on a wasp sting will reduce the swelling and speed up the recovery time. There are enzymes in fresh-cut onion that help break down the compounds in a sting that cause inflammation.
HOME CURE: Vinegar USE IT FOR: Swimmer’s ear
CHILDREN’S ears are more susceptible to bacteria than adults because the opening is bigger. Vinegar kills the bacteria that cause swimmer’s ear. Dilute white vinegar with an equal amount of distilled water and put three drops in the ear three times daily.
HOME CURE: Ginger USE IT FOR: Travel sickness
AT LEAST two of the active constituents of ginger reduce the amount of gastric juices produced and lower acidity of the stomach which will help fight nausea. Suck on a little slice of fresh ginger at the first signs of queasiness.
HOME CURE: Sugar cubes USE IT FOR: Hiccups
HICCUPS are caused by uncontrolled spasms in the diaphragm. It is thought sugar stimulates the vagus nerve – which leads from the brain through to the diaphragm – to stop muscles contracting.
Ground pepper forms a crust over a cut to keep it clean