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How to take the ache out of the little pains

Toothache
Toothache

THEY’RE not the big illnesses that strike fear into the heart – but they are the everyday medical miseries that trouble and torment.

Here’s our guide to what to do – and what not to do – about those ailments just sent to try us.


STYE

What is it?
A painful problem whereby an infection at the base of an eyelash forms what looks like a yellow spot.

Best thing to do?
Leave it to take its course or carefully use a hot compress, which can draw the pus to the surface and make it burst.

Worst thing to do?
Don’t use antibiotic medicines or try to lance it with a needle as it can dangerously spread the infection to the eyelid.

 

GANGLION

What is it?
A fluid-filled lump usually found on the wrist or hands.

Best thing to do?
Leave it alone if it’s not causing any pain. Doctors can suck out the fluid with a needle and syringe but a small operation to remove it is the most effective solution.

Worst thing to do?
The old tale about bashing it with a book – traditionally the Bible – can work but, apart from hurting like heck, there’s a high chance of it coming back.

 

BURNS AND SCALDS

What is it?
Can be caused by boiling water, flames or electrical contact.

Best thing to do?
Get the affected area under cold running water for at least 20 minutes and cover the burned area with cling film.

Worst thing to do?
Don’t use butter, milk, yogurt or other folk remedies. Also, don’t apply creams or an adhesive dressing and don’t prick any blisters.

 

MOSQUITO BITE

What is it?
Bite sites can be red and itchy. Fever and headache are among the symptoms and Zika among the dangerous infections.

Best thing to do?
Apply a hydrocortisone cream to relieve the itching and try a cold pack on the site.

Worst thing to do?
Itch! Glasgow University researchers have found that scratching a bite makes it more likely infections will spread around the body.

 

BLEEDING NOSE

What is it?
Really common, the medical name is epistaxis.

Best thing to do?
Sit down and pinch just above the nostrils but below the bridge of the nose for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Lean forward and place an ice pack or bag of frozen veg, covered by a towel, on the bridge of the nose.

Worst thing to do?
Don’t hold your head back as this drains the blood down the back of your throat.

 

TOOTHACHE

What is it?
Decay and damage caused by grinding are just two of the causes.

Best thing to do?
If it persists for more than two days, see a dentist. Painkillers like paracetamol could reduce the discomfort in the meantime.

Worst thing to do?
Ignore it. Not seeing a dentist will just mean more damage.

 

EARACHE

What is it?
Infection is the most common cause.

Best thing to do?
Painkillers usually work well but youngsters, those with other symptoms and anyone who hasn’t seen improvement in four days should see a doctor.

Worst thing to do?
If you have something in your ear, never try to remove it yourself. And don’t try to clear wax with a cotton bud as it can push it further into the ear canal.

 

WARTS AND VERRUCAS

What is it?
Warts are rough lumps on the skin caused by a virus. Verrucas are just warts on the soles of the feet.

Best thing to do?
They’re not usually harmful so you can leave alone, but the two most common options if you do treat them are either applying a gel of salicylic acid or having them medically frozen off.

Worst thing to do?
If you have a verruca don’t go swimming without a waterproof plaster and flip-flops. And don’t give up on the acid gel – you’ll need to do it daily for up to three months for it to work.

 

COLD SORES

What is it?
Caused by the herpes simplex virus, they affect one in five people in the UK on a regular basis.

Best thing to do?
They’ll usually get better on their own but an antiviral cream can help.

Worst thing to do?
Don’t touch or pick – and don’t kiss anyone!

 

BLISTERS

What is it?
A separation in the upper skin layers that lets the space between them fill with serum.

Best thing to do?
If it’s on a foot, try to go barefooted as long as you can and apply a blister plaster, leaving it on until it drops off itself.

Worst thing to do?
Don’t pop, as it can open up the area to infection.

 

HAY FEVER

What is it?
An allergy to grass or hay pollen resulting in itchy eyes, sneezing and blocked or runny noses.

Best thing to do?
Stay indoors, keep windows shut, wear wraparound sunglasses and try antihistamine nasal sprays or tablets.

Worst thing to do?
No scientific proof at all that a spoonful of honey will help you build up a resistance to pollen. And don’t tip your head back when taking a nasal spray.

 

INGROWING TOENAIL

What is it?
Caused by a sharp spike of nail growing into the skin beside it.

Best thing to do?
Soak your toe in water for 10 minutes to soften the skin around the nail. Then use a cotton bud to push the skin away from the nail. Do this daily and, as the nail grows, push a little bit of cotton wool under the nail so it doesn’t grow into the skin.

Worst thing to do?
Wear tight shoes or cut your toenails any way other than straight across.

 

PILES

What is it?
Haemorrhoids, or piles, are swellings around the back passage. External ones are the painful ones.

Best thing to do?
Eat plenty of fibre, drink regularly, avoid codeine painkillers as they can cause constipation and try soothing cream or ointment.

Worst thing to do?
Don’t put off going to the loo – but don’t dally once there. And fiery curries are definitely best avoided while you have piles.

 

SUNBURN

What is it?
Painful, red, hot, skin damage caused by ultraviolet rays.

Best thing to do?
Avoid in the first place by limiting exposure and using at least a factor-15 sunscreen. Sponge with cold water and apply a jelly like Vaseline to keep the skin cool and moist. Try a milk-soaked towel or milk-based lotion to create a film over the skin.

Worst thing to do?
Go back in the sun.

Sunburn
Sunburn

HANGOVER

What is it?
Over-indulgence, pure and simple, with the diuretic effects of alcohol causing dehydration.

Best thing to do?
Medical experts insist there is no cure other than not getting one in the first place. But drinking plenty fluids, taking paracetamol and making thin vegetable broths rich in vitamins and minerals can help. Milk thistle tablets also claim to help soothe the liver.

Worst thing to do?
Have a hair of the dog. You should wait at least 48 hours to touch alcohol after a heavy session.


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