If you are allergic to dust mites and suspect that your area rugs make you sneeze and itch, place them outdoors in direct sunlight. In one study, Australian researchers placed mite-infested rugs upsidedown on an outdoor concrete surface during a summer day. After four hours, no live mites or eggs survived. Airing rugs and other household items outdoors dry and warms them, a process that kills mites.
If you have an ingrown toenail, soak the toe in the water to soften the nail, then wedge a few strands of absorbent cotton (or unwaxed dental floss) under the corner of the nail to keep it from cutting the skin. Do this several times a day, if necessary, until the nail grows out. To prevent painful ingrown toenails: when trimming the nails, always cut them straight across. And don’t trim toenails too close.
If you are prone to ear infection and your ear begins to itch after
swimming, use antiseptic eardrops— particularly if you’ve been swimming in a lake. You can buy these without a prescription at any drugstore. Or mix equal parts white vinegar and rubbing alcohol, and put one or two drops in each ear with a medicine dropper three times a day.
Though nothing cures a cold, some home remedies can help: hot drinks, especially chicken soup, can increase the flow of nasal secretions. Tea with honey temporarily relieves a sore throat. Saltwater gargles (a quarter teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water) are also helpful, as are homemade saline nose drops (same formula as the gargle).
If you have pinkeye or another eye infection, don’t use an eye patch unless your doctor tells you to: the patch can encourage the growth of infectious organisms.
To save money on drugs, ask your doctor about prescribing tablets that are double your needed dosage, which you can cut in half. Many tablets come scored with a line for ease of cutting. Often a tablet that’s twice as potent costs only 25 to 50% more. This won’t work for all medications, and you must be careful to make sure you cut the tablet evenly in half. The best way to do this is to use a special pill cutter, which is inexpensive.
If you know a smoker who won’t quit because of the fear of weight gain, pass on this news. Smokers usually do gain weight during the first year or two after quitting, but a Canadian study found that afterward, most female ex-smokers (but fewer men) lose all or most of the extra pounds. It also found that two years after quitting, the women were actually less likely to be obese than were smokers. As a means of staying thin, smoking is a poor bargain.
When buying shoes, always have your feet measured, since their size may have changed if you’ve gained or lost weight or started exercising more. Put your full weight on the foot as it’s being measured. Most of us have one foot that’s larger than the other; choose the size that fits the larger foot. Feet expand during the course of the day, so go to the shoe store midday or later, hen they’ll be their “true” size.
If vacuuming intensifies your allergies, get microfiltration bags for your vacuum cleaner. These have a two-ply design that can trap many of the smallest particles. Such filters cost more than the standard ones and may fit only certain vacuum models and brands. There are also electrostatic filters that fit over the exhaust of some vacuum models. For the most effective removal of allergens, consider buying a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filter, a type of filter found in the best air purifiers.
Switching from cigarettes to a pipe or cigars does not eliminate risk. Cigars and pipes increase the risk of not only cancer of the mouth, but also lung cancer since former cigarette smokers tend to inhale.
Don’t forget your lips when applying sunscreen: the lower lip is one of the most common sites for skin cancer. You can use a clear or colored sunscreen lipstick or, for even more complete protection, zinc oxide (an opaque sunblock). These products also help prevent lip chapping and blistering from the sun—and may help some people avoid the recurrence of cold sores.
Don’t use hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds. It is no more effective than soap and water (still the preferred method), and may actually damage the surrounding healthy skin.
To prevent dry skin, limit bathing to 15 minutes a day, and favor a tepid shower over a hot bath. Excessive bathing in hot water and the excessive use of strong soap washes away the natural oils that help trap water in the skin. Use a very mild soap, and dilute it with water rather than lathering it directly on your skin. Apply a moisturizer immediately after bathing or showering.
for the greatest protection from the sun, look for a “broad spectrum” sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB. Such sunscreens usually contain one of the following: titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (physical blocks); avobenzone (also called Parsol 1789); or Mexoryl (ecamsule). Other sunscreen ingredients absorb mostly UVB rays, which are mainly responsible for sunburn and the less deadly skin cancers. UVA rays may be more important in the development of melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer, as well as wrinkling.
Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you go out into the sun. This allows the active ingredients to penetrate the topmost layer of skin and makes them more effective. Use a generous amount, not a little dab, and reapply frequently.
Call your doctor for test results—don’t assume that no news is good news. One-third of doctors do not always notify patients of abnormal test results, according to one study. The most common reasons for not notifying patients were that the patient was expected to return to the office/clinic soon or that the results were trivial. Many of the doctors didn’t even make a record when they did notify patients.
To reduce the risk of osteoarthritis, maintain a healthy weight since obesity stresses the joints. According to a long-term study of students at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, young men in their twenties who are 20 pounds or more overweight nearly double their chances of developing arthritis of the knee and hip later in life.