Elmer's glue, soy sauce or mustard may soothe the pain of a burn

The Baltimore Sun

Some time ago, I heard an unusual home remedy on your radio show: using Elmer's glue to prevent blistering on a burned hand. I burned myself last night and initially iced my hand.

Since I've never had much luck with icing burns, I decided to try the glue method, which consists of spreading glue over the burned area and letting it harden. I repeated this covering a couple of times to form something like a second skin over the burn. Eight hours later, as I write, the skin is a little tender, but there are no blisters. This is really neat.

This is one of the more unusual home remedies people use on burns. Rapidly cooling the skin first with cold water is important. In addition to helping reduce the pain, it stops the heat from making the burn worse.

We have no idea why Elmer's glue might ease the pain of a household burn. Others report success with soy sauce or yellow mustard. A serious burn deserves medical attention and should have nothing other than cool water applied to it at home.

I have been diagnosed with toenail fungus. My doctor recommended an oral medication that is taken over several months, or even up to a year.

This medication can cause liver damage, though, so I want to try to avoid going this route. I have heard of several home remedies, including tea tree oil and Vicks VapoRub.

I am trying Vicks. My toenail has fallen off, but how can I tell if this treatment is successful? Do you have any other recommendations?

We have been collecting home remedies for nail fungus for years, so we have several suggestions. Now that your toenail has fallen off, you'll need to keep treating it for several months until it grows out fungus-free.

One reader had this experience: "I had a toenail fungus, and the nail was about to come off. My doctor referred me to a podiatrist but commented that if it weren't so far gone, he would recommend putting Vicks VapoRub on it. I tried it anyhow and got results within days. It saved me a trip to a podiatrist. Three years later, the nail is perfect."

Other people have had success treating nails with hydrogen peroxide, Listerine, vinegar or tea tree oil. We are sending you our "Guide to Hair and Nail Care" so you can learn more about these approaches. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (59 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. H-31, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site at peoplespharm acy.com.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband saw his endocrinologist, and the doctor ordered a test of his vitamin D level. It was very low, so my husband was put on 2,000 units per day.

My husband has been having a lot of pain in his shoulder, with a limited range of motion. An orthopedic surgeon told him that he had a tear in his rotator cuff, and that the only option was surgery.

In less than a week and a half on the vitamin D supplement, he has NO pain and FULL range of motion. This is like a miracle! I think we need a second opinion on that surgery.

A second opinion might be wise. Rheumatologists have been reporting that vitamin D deficiency can result in significant joint pain, stiffness and fatigue. Correcting the deficiency often cures these problems, although it won't repair a torn rotator cuff.

In many parts of the U.S., low vitamin D levels are common during the winter because of the lack of sun exposure. It doesn't take much time in the sun for skin to make vitamin D, but in cold weather that is not practical.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site.

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