Minor Medical Mishaps

You can’t go running to the doctor for every minor burn, scrape, or dizzy spell. Here’s how to handle those minor mishaps at home.  

I’ve Got a Bad Sunburn

Apply cold compresses. Despite slathering on SPF 45 and sitting under umbrellas, occasionally we still get burned. Sometimes overexposure to sun even leads to second-degree burns. If sunburn causes fever, fluid-filled blisters, or severe pain, or if the burn affects an infant under the age of 1, call a doctor. A doctor can treat the burn and prescribe medicines to prevent infections or scarring from the blisters. Otherwise, the pain should be over in a few days, and the skin should be fully healed in a week.

To alleviate sunburn pain, apply cold compresses or immerse the burned skin in cool water. Rub in moisturizing lotion or aloe gel but not salve, butter, or ointment. Do not pop blisters.

I Scorched My Finger On a Pot

Apply Cold, then aloe. We’re assuming that you have a first-degree burn, meaning there is damage only to the top layer of skin, leaving it red and painful. More serious burns require more serious treatment. But if the momentary touch to something hot caused your burn, rinse the burned area in cold water for five to ten minutes to ease the pain. Then apply cool, moist cloths or a towel- wrapped ice pack. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help. Aloe-based moisturizers will soothe the skin. First-degree burns do not usually require medical attention and should heal in a week or less.

I Gave Myself a Nasty Paper Cut

Clean and cover. They hurt, but small cuts are rarely a problem unless they get infected. So wash the area thoroughly, apply an antibiotic salve, and then cover with an adhesive bandage. Cover it even if it isn’t bleeding, because you still need to protect the exposed flesh from germs. In fact, the antibiotic salve should be reapplied three times a day for maximum protection. The cut should heal within a few days.

I Bit My Tongue and It Hurts

Rinse with mouthwash. We all do it, and we all feel foolish about it. There’s not much you can do to speed up the healing of a tongue bite. Gargling with a germ-killing mouthwash will help keep it from getting infected, and applying an oral analgesic ointment, if you have it, will reduce the pain. After that, your job is to keep yourself from biting your tongue again. Because your tongue is swollen, be mindful when chewing. Doctors recommend switching to soft foods until the swelling recedes. As with any cut, the swelling should go down within a few days, and the tongue completely healed within a few weeks.

I Just Ripped the Top of My Fingernail Off

Trim it and leave it. If the rip is in the top half of the nail, and the base of the nail remains securely in place, there is probably no damage to the skin underneath, so you can tend to it yourself. Otherwise, see a doctor. To fix a torn fingernail, take a nail trimmer and smooth out the edge to prevent it from catching on something and ripping further. Wash your hands and then leave the nail alone. Putting a bandage on it won’t help; in fact, that will lock in moisture, which will soften the nail and make infection more likely. Rather, keep the nail dry. Let the nail grow back at its own pace.

I Have a Nosebleed

Pinch the nose. Nosebleeds happen to many people for all sorts of benign reasons. If the person is elderly or has a serious health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a blood coagulation problem, call a doctor when a nosebleed occurs. Otherwise, chances are that the nosebleed is not serious. There is a simple method that doctors recommend for stopping the blood flow: Pinch the soft part of the nose firmly. Direct pressure should halt the bleeding within minutes. If after 30 minutes the flow hasn’t stopped, call a doctor.

I Got Hit in the Eye

Use an icepack. To reduce swelling and pain, put an ice pack or cold cloth over the eye. Keep it there for 15 minutes. If the eye continues to hurt or turns red, or if you have blurred vision, double vision, or a lot of new floaters (small specks floating across your field of vision), go to an emergency room or see a doctor right away.

I Feel Dizzy

Lie down. If you’ve been exercising and you feel dizzy, seek emergency medical help right away. Dizziness during any kind of physical workout can be a sign of cardiac trouble. Otherwise, feeling dizzy, like fainting, is fairly common. (If it happens more than once, however, see a doctor.) As with fainting, you should lie down, so that blood floods to your brain. If you’re with someone, explain what you’re doing, so that your companion can get help if the situation turns into an emergency. Take calming breaths and stay prone until you feel completely normal.

Get more health and well-being tips when sign up for our weekly health newsletter.

Popular Videos