Monday, April 18, 2011

Your Skin Survival Kit

Millie writes:

Here in the rainy Pacific Northwest we welcome Spring pretty fervently, as you may imagine. However, even if you live on an ice floe the sunshine and the longer, warmer days come with a downside: dry, itchy, bug-bitten skin. (Maybe that happens on ice floes, too, for all I know.)

Before you panic and head to the dermatologist for these new bumps, flakes and itches, try a few of these home remedies. You may be able to save up enough for that yellow polka-dot bikini you've had your eye on for summer!

Dry, Itchy Skin
Good ol' oatmeal is one of the best skin-soothers you can buy. It contains compounds that fight fungal infections and inflammation, cleanse gently, and moisturize. Run several cups of uncooked oatmeal through the food processor or blender until it's very fine, then add it slowly to the bathtub under warm running water. Soak for at least 10 minutes, then pat the skin dry. You can soak in an oatmeal bath as often as necessary – it's oatmeal, for goodness' sake, it can't hurt you. It will go right down the drain but it does make the tub slippery, so be careful when you get in and out. Oatmeal can help with the dryness and itchiness associated with bug bites, eczema, chicken pox, poison ivy and just general dry skin.

Bug Bites
There are a lot of home remedies for bug bites; you probably have your own favorites. Some people put a damp aspirin over the bite, while others swear by tea-tree oil. If you're bitten near a creek or a river, put mud on the bite and leave it until it dries. An ice cube can make the bite feel better, at least as long as you keep it frozen. Possibly the least elegant but most effective solution I've found is to put Preparation H on the bite.

Heat Rash

If you have a baby – or used to – dig out that old tube of diaper-rash cream. The zinc oxide in the ointment will instantly relieve the pain and itching of heat rash. (If you, like me, are of Juno-esque proportions, you may be interested to learn that it will also relieve those raw patches under your breasts or on your thighs known so flatteringly as “chub rub.”) You can also press diaper-rash cream into use as emergency suntan lotion – it's basically the same as that white stuff that lifeguards use on their noses.


Less rain means more outside play, which means more scrapes and bruises. We always put sugar on scrapes to stop the bleeding. Some of the kids I knew used cobwebs for the same purpose and it seemed to work pretty well, too, though I could never bring myself to do it. Soap and water, hydrogen peroxide, antibacterial ointment and a bandage are your best bets, though. No use fooling around with infection.

The best remedy for sunburn is not to get burned in the first place, but it's easy to forget the sunscreen after a long winter of being indoors all the time. To relieve the pain try covering it with a washcloth dipped in milk or pouring a cup of cider vinegar into a lukewarm bath and soaking in that for a while. Small sunburns will feel better if you hold a slice of raw potato or cucumber over the area. Aloe vera gel is supposed to help (though I never thought it made much difference, myself) but if that's not available, try dampening some teabags in cool water and laying those directly on the burn.

1 comment:

  1. My bug bite remedy is one that indeed sounds odd, but works well. Make a paste of water and meat tenderizer. Put it on the bite until it dries. Amazing results. The compound that breaks down the toughness of meat, breaks down the poison in the bite.


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