Photo: ThinkstockBy Corrie Pikul
These medical experts explain the didn't-know-it-could-do-that double lives of products we usually have on hand.
Standard use: Clearing up your nasal passages.
Surprise use: Calming down the pimple on your nose.
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Most allergy doctors will warn against using OTC nasal sprays for more than three days, because your nasal tissues can become accustomed to the decongestant and begin to overcompensate. Here's one way to use the leftover liquid: dab it on a pimple. "Products like Afrin or Dristan contain oxymetazoline, which constricts blood vessels under the skin and takes away redness on top of it," says Maria Marzella Mantione, an associate clinical professor at St. John's University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and a national spokeswoman for the American Pharmacists Association.
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Vaginal Yeast Infection Cream
Standard use: Providing relief for the itching, burning and irritation affecting your lady parts.
Surprise use: Providing relief for itching, burning and irritation affecting your feet, or your husband's man parts, or your child's baby parts.
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"Miconazole, the antifungal agent in Monistat, is an effective treatment for athlete's foot as well as jock itch," says Isaac M. Neuhaus, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of California in San Francisco. The different yeasts causing these infections are all part of the same family. Feet usually take about a month to respond to twice-daily applications, while your partner should experience relief in two weeks, and your baby's diaper rash should clear up in a few days. (Keep in mind that this doesn't work both ways, and you should never use medication on your vagina that wasn't specifically formulated for that area).
Standard use: Getting rid of a throbbing headache.
Surprise use: Getting rid of a nagging wart.
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Aspirin belongs to a family of compounds called salicylates, which are in the same family as salicylic acid-the active ingredient in most OTC wart medication. Mantione suggests taking two plain, non-coated Bayer tablets, grinding them up and adding a little bit of water to make a paste. Apply this to the affected area every day. "It could take 8 to 12 weeks to work," she says, but that's still on-pace with most OTC wart removers.
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