first aid myths paramedic dressing wound

Myth 1: If you get a cut, Simply Apply Ointment, Apply a Bandage, and Leave it Alone for a few Days

Truth: Applying ointment keeps the wound moistened, which does not help the healing process.  Bandages require changing, and should not be left alone for days.  Wounds need to be kept clean.

Solution: When it comes to getting cuts and scrapes, the best way to heal wounds is to expose them to the air.  Wash the cut with soap and water or use alcohol-free wipes and pat the wound dry using a gauze swab and cover with a sterile gauze. If the gauze is not self-adhesive, then wrap a bandage on top. Bandages should be slightly loose in order to allow air flow.

Myth 2: If you get a Burn, Grab the Butter!

Truth: The grease in butter can make matters worse, to say the least.  Instead, burns should be cooled as soon as possible – with water, not grease!  Avoid any kind of lotion, cream, or spray.

Solution: Water is simply all you need, cool the affected area for at least 10 minutes and remove any constricting clothing before swelling begins.  Then cover the injured area with kitchen film (lengthways) to protect it from infection. The burn cannot be too tightly wrapped either, though, as that can lead to further swelling.

diagram showing 3 degrees of burns

Myth 3: Rub an Affected eye to Release the Contaminant Through Tears

Truth: Rubbing the eye can cause further infection and abrasion.

Solution: Watering of the eye, pain and blurred vision are common symptoms. Simply irrigate the affected eye with water or sterile eye wash for 10 minutes. There’s no need to rely on tears.

Myth 4: Allergic Reactions can be Handled at Home

Truth: An allergy is an abnormal reaction to the immune system. Allergic reactions can be life threatening to which common symptoms such as itching, swelling or wheezing can develop rapidly if left untreated.

Solution: In cases of extreme allergic reaction, an anaphylactic shock, is possible.  The best thing to do if this could be happening is call for an ambulance. In the interim, if the casualty has an auto-injector or adrenaline, help him/ her to use (this can be administered at five-minute intervals if there is no improvement). During an anaphylactic shock, blood pressure falls and air passages constrict, so it is recommended that you help the casualty sit in an upright position to relieve any breathing difficulties.

Myth 5: Tilt Back Your Head During a Nosebleed

Truth: Tilting back the head can send the blood straight down the throat.

Solution: Apply pressure to the nose by pinching the soft part of the nose, and tilt the head forward.  Breathing should be done through the mouth (which has a calming effect) for 10 minutes until the bleeding has stopped. It is important that the casualty does not speak, cough, of sniff since this could disturb the blood clots formed in the nose.

Myth 6: After a bee Sting, Squeeze the Stinger out

Truth: Squeezing the stinger can release more venom into your system.

Solution: To remove the stinger safely, use a credit card or other flat surface to scrape it away. Do not apply pressure on the sting as this can inject more poison into the body. After raise the affected hand and apply ice to minimise swelling.

Myth 7: If you Sprain Your Ankle, Apply a Heating Pad

Truth: Applying heat to the sprain (or strain or fracture) can make the injury swell further.

Solution: Ice! In order to make things better, reducing swelling is important.  Apply ice for 20 minutes and ensure there is a comfortable barrier between the ice and skin.

Learn more about heat and ice treatment and when it is necessary here!

Strains and sprains should be treated using the RICE procedure:

RICE First Aid Procedure for Strains & Sprains

Myth 8: Urinating on a Jellyfish Sting Takes the Pain Away! 

Truth: Urinating on a jellyfish sting is can make things far more painful, and can make problems much worse.

Solution: Sit the casualty down and slowly pour sea water (and if available, vinegar) over the area of injury to incapacitate the stinging cells. Apply a bandage at the site of the bite and check their circulation.