The claim: Ice is good treatment for skin burn
Like a cup of tea for a cough, a batch of ice for a sunburn may seem like the perfect remedy for millions of Americans who will spend a little too much time in the sun this summer. But many home remedies that seem like common sense are less than helpful, and the old ice-for-a-burn technique is no exception. It can help soothe some initial pain, but in the end it will slow the healing process. That has been borne out over the years in various studies of simple treatments for minor scalds and sunburns. In one randomized study by Danish researchers in 2002, 24 healthy volunteers were inflicted with first-degree burns and subjected to different treatments. Those who received a cooling treatment similar to ice did not experience reduced pain or inflammation compared with those who received placebo treatment.
In another study in the journal Burns in 1997, another team of scientists compared easing burns with ice cubes for 10 minutes with other remedies, and found that ice caused “the most severe damage.’’ “Using an ice cube immediately after injury,” the authors added, “is harmful in some instances.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, putting ice on a burn can cause frostbite and damage the skin. For better results, try running cool water over the area and taking a pain reliever. Then cover the area with gauze but no ointment. Most minor burns heal without further treatment, the clinic says.
The bottom line
Never use ice to soothe a burn.
The claim: A Fever in a Baby Is a Sign of Teething
An old wives’ tale says that fever in a baby is not always a cause for concern. Chalk it up to teething, pay little mind and go back to sleep, the saying goes.
But experts suggest otherwise. While the emergence of new teeth in infants under a year old can sometimes cause a slight increase in body temperature, studies show it does not generally cause high-grade fever. The symptoms can be a sign of a serious problem like a viral illness.
In 2000, a Cleveland Clinic team published a study that followed 125 children from visits to the doctor—from the age of four months to their first birthday. In that time, 475 tooth eruptions occurred, and the study found many symptoms in the roughly 8-day periods in which the teeth emerged, such as increased biting, drooling, gum rubbing, facial rash and decreased appetite. But no teething children had high-grade fever of 104 degrees or above.
A later study which followed children from the age of 6-30 months came to the same conclusion. There was no link between teething and body temperature or high fever. “Before caregivers attribute any infants’ signs or symptoms of a potentially serious illness to teething,” the first study said, “other possible causes must be ruled out.”
The bottom line
Studies show high fevers are generally not a teething symptom, and may be more serious.
©2008/The New York Times