Q: I am a firm believer in home remedies and have tried many of the ones listed on your website with good results. The most remarkable is soy sauce for burns. I have used it many times with great success.
I cook a lot and have even had a red-hot ember from a grill fall on the top of my foot. Part went down between my toes as I was hopping around. First I used cold water to wash the area of ash. Then I poured on the soy sauce. Half an hour later there was no pain and very little redness.
A: Thank you for sharing your story. Many other readers agree that cold water followed by soy sauce is a go-to treatment for minor burns. Grilling poses special risks when coals are involved. You could have experienced a very serious burn. Those require prompt medical attention.
People who value simple solutions to common health problems may find our book “The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies” of value. It can be found at peoplespharmacy.com.
Q: I managed to get a piece of dry deck material lodged in a big toe that not one but two nurses failed to find, never mind pull out. A nurse friend of mine suggested wrapping the toe with duct tape and leaving it there overnight. Imagine my surprise the next morning when removing the duct tape also pulled out a large chunk of wood that was clearly deck wood. Duct tape — good for just about everything!
A: Duct tape does have a range of unexpected uses. For removing splinters, you may be able to use nearly any kind of adhesive tape, as this reader suggests:
“We have successfully used Scotch tape, duct tape or masking tape — whichever happened to be close at hand — for removing a fresh splinter. This works especially well for children. It is not nearly as scary for them as approaching them with tweezers. The first time I tried it on my 5-year-old son, I whisked the piece of tape off and it worked. He excitedly said, ‘Do it again!’ So I put another little piece of tape on him and pulled it off and he was thrilled, as if it was a magic trick.”
Another possible remedy for splinters is carpenter’s glue or white glue, like Elmer’s. Another reader wrote: “These glues adhere especially well to cellulose, the main substance in wood or wood products. Splinters are made of the same stuff. Apply the glue liberally to the area and let it cure fully, about a half-hour or so. Then peel off and voilà! No more splinter.”
Q: I was snorkeling off a dive boat in Hawaii when I became tangled in very toxic box jellyfish tentacles. Several others from the boat also came in contact with them. One young man was severely stung over two-thirds of his body.
The boat crew had a gallon jug of vinegar on board for just such emergencies. First, they hosed us off with fresh water to rinse away loose tentacles. Then they poured vinegar on the stung areas. This seems to neutralize the toxins temporarily. At that point, they had us scrape away anything clinging to our skin. Paper towels were soaked in vinegar and we were told to gently hold the wet towels on our skin, periodically resoaking with vinegar. Every time we removed the soaked paper towels, some of the pain returned, but it was obvious the vinegar helped.
A: The American Heart Association and the American Red Cross recommend that jellyfish stings should be rinsed with vinegar for 30 seconds or more. In theory, the acetic acid neutralizes the venom of the Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish (Circulation, Nov. 2, 2010, Suppl. 3).