When Doctors Don’t Know the Best Medical Advice

Some of their outdated tips may compromise your care or sabotage your health goals. Here, medical advice you can safely ignore.

By Sharon Liao from Reader's Digest Magazine | June 2013

Hydrogen PeroxideOld Medical Advice: Use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean and disinfect a cut or scrape. These cleansing agents destroy infection-causing bacteria. Some medical centers and even the National Institutes of Health website advise stowing a bottle of either one in your first aid kit to clean wounds.

New Medical Advice: Rinse cuts with soap and water instead. Hydrogen peroxide and alcohol slow down the healing process by also destroying the good cells essential for tissue repair, says Dr. Carroll. Smarter first aid protocol: Wash the wound with mild soap and running water for three to five minutes, and then apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. In a classic study published in the Journal of Family Practice, this method helped infected blisters mend faster than other approaches, including rinsing with hydrogen peroxide. Finally, apply a bandage to keep the area clean and moist. Not covering a wound is another common mistake, says Dr. Carroll. “Airing out a cut promotes cell death, and the resulting scab can lead to scarring,” he explains. Once and for all, cover up that cut for faster healing.

Next: Should you medicate as soon as you feel sick? »

Jamie Chung

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