Next time you have a minor medical issues crop us- or you just want a health boost-look no further than your kitchen cabinet.
When minor medical issues crop up (nosebleeds, insect stings, dandruff!), chances are your medicine cabinet already contains some effective-and surprising-fixes for what ails you. Here are 6 common household items that all do double duty, saving you a trip to the pharmacy-and cash in the process!
1. Soothe an insect bite with an antacid tablet
"Antacid formulations such as Alka-Seltzer contain aspirin, an anesthetic that can help ease the sting and itch of insect bites," says Howard Sobel, MD, a clinical attending physician in dermatology and dermatologic surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.
He recommends making a paste with a crushed Antacid tablet, a pinch of oatmeal (also a skin soother), and water and applying it to the skin. Results are immediate-and this DIY formula has a healing bonus that other anti-itch salves lack. "Calamine lotion contains zinc oxide, which can be drying to the skin," Sobel explains. "Effervescent Antacid tablets provide quicker relief from pain and itching-without the dehydrating side effects."
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2. Prevent Athlete's Foot with Mouthwash
To prevent athlete's foot, soak a cotton ball with the liquid and swab the bottoms of your feet and between toes after every shower. According to Sobel, the high alcohol content of traditional mouthwash helps ward off fungal infections.
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3. Stop a nosebleed with nasal spray
Most nosebleeds can be stopped by simply pinching the nose for 10 to 20 minutes, but if yours persists, nasal spray may do the trick. According to Amy Sutton Peak, PharmD, director of Drug Information Services at Butler University, about two-thirds of people who visit an emergency room for a persistent nosebleed are successfully treated with oxymetazoline, the decongestant found in common drugstore nasal sprays such as Afrin and Mucinex.
To stop the bleeding, she recommends tilting your head forward and clearing your nose by blowing out any clots (this may increase bleeding for a few seconds). Next, inhale through your nose while spraying oxymetazoline into the affected nostril(s), and then pinch the soft part of your nose closed. Maintain pressure for 10 full minutes. If the bleeding hasn't stopped, continue pinching for another 10 minutes. If none of these measures works, see a health care provider for further treatment.
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4. Prevent gum disease with yogurt
Adults who consume 55 g of yogurt per day have significantly fewer markers of periodontal disease than those who don't include this food in their diets, according to scientists at Kyushu University in Japan. That's because the lactic acid in yogurt helps protect their gums from the harmful bacteria that cause this chronic condition.
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5. Boost your vision with extra virgin olive oil
Studies show that the omega-3 fatty acids in olive oil help prevent age-related macular degeneration. People who ate the most olive oil (at least 100 ml, or nearly 7 tablespoons, per week) were about half as likely to develop late AMD as those who consumed less than 1 ml per week, according to researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia.
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6. Protecting skin from sun damage with dark chocolate
Dark chocolate may help protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, finds a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Researchers say minimally processed versions of the sweet treat are rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that could prevent wrinkles and cut the risk of skin cancer caused by exposure to sunlight.
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