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Homes should have remedies for common maladies Soothing Summer's Sting


Give yourself this assignment: Check out your medicine cabinet to see if it's properly stocked for summer medical emergencies.

* Seek medical help: For an allergic reaction or swelling.

Cuts, bruises and splinters

Minor wounds can be cleaned with soap and water or hydrogen peroxide to prevent infection.

Experts differ on whether smaller cuts and scrapes should be covered with antibiotic ointments and bandages. Some think it keeps the area clean and discourages infection, while others believe exposure to air promotes faster healing.

Bandages may be best for active kids who are likely to get a wounded area dirty.

If there's much bleeding, apply pressure to the cut for five to 10 minutes, using a dressing or roller bandage to soak up blood and keep germs out. If bleeding persists, don't remove the dressing. Just apply more on top.

If you're in the ointment-and-bandage camp, apply antibiotic ointments to prevent infection. Cover a scrape or cut with a gauze dressing. The first day, either change the dressing two to three times, or apply ointment to the site several times. After that, remove the dressing and wash the area with mild soap or baby shampoo. Don't take a bath to clean the wound; dirty water can bring on infection.

* Other approaches include: Give aspirin or ibuprofen for pain relief. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to control swelling in a bruised area.

* Seek medical help if you see any of these signs: fever; confusion; weakness; nausea; clammy or red skin; rapid, shallow breathing; weak pulse; or pus oozing from a wound site.

Sources for the story: Janet Davies-Balliet, supervisor of workplace programs, American Red Cross, Southeastern Michigan chapter; Dr. James Fox, vice chief, department of emergency medicine, and pharmacists Laurie Wesolowicz and Angelina Ho, St. John Hospital, Detroit.

Also, these books: "Standard First Aid" by the American ReCross; "The Natural Health First-Aid Guide" by Mark Mayell and the editors of Natural Health Magazine (Pocket Books, $14); "The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Children" by the editors of Prevention Magazine Health Books (Rodale, $27.95); "The Complete Home Healer" by Angela Smyth (HarperSanFrancisco, $23, in bookstores in June); Zimmerman's Complete Guide to Nonprescription Drugs" by David Zimmerman (Visible Ink, $19.95).

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