The Stuff of Legend: 3 Popular Health Myths Debunked
The world is full of health folklore. You know the warnings: don’t go outside with your hair wet or you’ll catch a cold; don’t swallow gum or it will stay inside your stomach for seven years; etc. It’s difficult to know where these legends come from, and even more important, whether or not you should believe them. If you follow all of the advice, you might drive yourself crazy from trying to be so cautious, but if you don’t, you might harm your health. Right?
1.) Cold from Cold?
While growing up, many of us have heard well-meaning parents and grandparents warn we’ll catch a cold from being too cold. This adage likely stems from the fact that people do get more colds in the winter. While going outside in freezing temperatures without proper protection is unpleasant, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get sick (but it may weaken your immune system). Instead, colds are viral infections transmitted through viruses. Thus, you catch a cold from someone who is already infected, not from being too cold yourself. To avoid this, be diligent about washing your hands and keeping common surface areas clean.
2.) Hydrogen Peroxide
The next time you have a wound that needs to be cleaned, think twice before you do so with hydrogen peroxide. Your mother's assurance that the fizzling sound meant the peroxide was working (and thus, the burn was worth it) was only half true. While the noise is actually the sound of a chemical peroxide attack being waged, the victims are both harmful bacteria and your own healthy cells including the sort that would have otherwise helped you heal. In fact, according to experts, this will actually slow your healing process and may increase risk of scarring. Next time you're treating a cut, wash up with soap and water and then dab on a topical antibacterial ointment.
3.) Butter For a Burn?
Have you ever cooked a gleaming apple pie only to burn your arm or hand on the oven? A little voice inside your head might advise you to reach for the butter, but this is a bad idea. In fact. butter is one of the worst things you can put on a wound – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically warn against using it as an ointment. While butter’s smooth and creamy consistency has earned it a reputation as a salve, it actually retains heat and irritates injuries, creating ideal breeding grounds for bacteria. Instead of butter, treat your burn with honey. Studies have shown it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, fights bacteria, and may get extra healing power from a high concentration of microbial agents called inhibines.