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Everyday Wellness in Brecksville: Sunburns, Scrapes and Bug Bites, Oh My

The start of summer can also mean digging in the closet for the first aid kit.

There’s an advertisement on television in which a girl falls down and skins her knee, then she looks up at her beautifully groomed mother and frowns. Without even blinking, the girl's mother pulls out a small bottle of antiseptic spray from her purse, sprays the kid, then blows on the bottle like she was just in a shootout in old Western. The little girl smiles in admiration and relief.

The same scenario at my house plays out like this: A boy pushes his brother to the ground; the brother’s knee is scraped and bleeding. Both boys begin screaming. I run into the house and rummage through a cabinet in search of something - I’m not sure what. I come back with a wet washcloth and the injured party runs away yelling, in fear of me.

School has been out for less than a week and our family has already been dealing with sunburn (me), skinned knees (one of my boys), motion sickness (both boys) and mosquito bites (all of us). I’ve decided that I’m going to be prepared and put together a first-aid kit of some kind. 

Of course, I found plenty of bandages and products for pain and itch relief at and , and I stocked up. But I also wanted to look into some home remedies. Here are some that I came across, and most of them use ingredients you may already have or that you can pick up at or .

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health has some simple steps for helping with sunburn:

  • To minimize swelling and pain, take a cool bath or apply cool compresses such as moistened washcloths placed in the freezer.
  • Apply aloe vera.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications can help reduce pain and swelling. 
  • Consult your healthcare provider for blistering skin. 

I haven’t tried all of these, but for mosquito bites, this article on The Farmer’s Almanac website has quite a few recommendations, including:

  • Apply a mixture of 5 percent tea tree oil with aloe vera gel to soothe and prevent infection.
  • To neutralize the poison and stop pain, apply fresh-crushed parsley directly to bug bites.
  • Apply a paste made of salt and water.
  • A fresh cut onion quickly applied to a sting will prevent swelling and redness and stop the pain.

For minor scrapes, the website for Healthy Child.org recommends using tea tree oil or witch hazel to clean and soothe and lavender or calendula ointment to promote healing. And they recommend ginger or peppermint for motion sickness.

Ohio State University Medical Center’s website says that everyone should have a well-stocked first-aid kit in their home, car and workplace and they list the items it should contain in that link. Healthy Child.org’s website also has some tips for what to include in a natural first aid kit and good information on caring for minor injuries and bug bites.

It’s time for me to be better prepared for the bites, scrapes and sunburns that are an inevitable part of life. I’m going to put together a first aid kit for my family and keep it where I can find it. But I’m still not sure how to keep the boys from pushing each other down.

Margaret June 14, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Very funny - and very true! My mom always used white vinegar in a cool bath to soothe sunburn... it's a little stinky but takes out the sting.
Heather McGahee June 16, 2011 at 05:46 PM
This left me in stitches! Very good advice, too! Aloe Vera is great for burns (I wish someone had told me how dangerous hot pudding can be).

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