Ever hear someone suggest putting butter on a burn, or recommend urinating on a jellyfish sting? Crazy, right? But some first aid treatment myths do persist.

Here are six first aid treatment myths that need to be demythified:

Myth 1 – treat jellyfish stings with your own urine.

This old suggestion may do more harm than good, as the urine may not be acidic enough to neutralise the sting. So, what is the current treatment for jellyfish stings:

Tropical jellyfish (such as box jellyfish, Morbakka, Irukandji) – call the ambulance on triple zero (000), especially in cases of box jellyfish sting; douse the sting site liberally with vinegar for a minimum of 30 seconds to neutralise the venom; rinse the tentacles off with seawater, or pull off with your fingers; apply cold packs to ease pain.

Non-tropical (such as bluebottles or Portuguese Man o’ war) – rise the tentacles off with seawater, or pull them off with tweezers or gloved fingers; immerse the affected area in hot water, as hot as the victim can tolerate.

Myth 2 – you need to suck the venom from a snake bite.

Sucking the venom may damage the tissue around the bite site and cause the venom to spread more quickly around the body. DO NOT DO THIS!

The current treatment for snake bite is:

Pressure and immobilisation – ensure the safety of everyone; call the ambulance on triple zero (000); keep the person as still and calm as possible to slow the spread of the venom; apply firm pressure on the bite; for bites on limbs, apply pressure bandages, and splint the limb to restrict movement; provide CPR if necessary; to assist paramedics and doctors, record as much information as you can.

Myth 3 – put butter on burns.

Putting butter, or any oil or grease, on burns conducts heat, making the burn worse. It also increases the risk of infection.

The current treatment for burns is:

Place the affected area under cool, gently running water for at least 20 minutes; remove any clothing if possible; assess severity and seek medical assistance if required.

Myth 4 – give alcohol to warm up a hypothermia victim.

Alcohol creates the illusion of warmth as heat rushes to dilated blood vessels close to the skin’s surface. However, this drops the core temperature, which is the opposite to what you are trying to achieve.

The current treatment for hypothermia is:

Move the person to shelter; remove any wet clothing, and dry the person; wrap them in warm blankets, towels or coats; if possible, give them warm non-alcoholic drinks or high-energy foods; once the body temperature has increased, keep the person warm and dry.

Myth 5 – put raw meat on a black eye.

Although raw meat is cold, you risk infection by transferring bacteria from the meat to the eye.

The current treatment for a black eye is:

Use a cold pack (a pack of frozen peas can be substituted) wrapped in a cloth or towel; if the person experiences blurred vision, or other eyesight problems, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Myth 6 – rub your eye to remove foreign substances

Rubbing eyes causes tears, which it was thought would flush out the substance. However, rubbing can cause the foreign material to scratch the protective outer shell of the eyeball.

The current treatment for foreign substance in the eye is:

Flush the eye with cold water, or the eyewash liquid in your first aid kit; get emergency help if the substance has rough or sharp edges, interferes with closing the eye, contains chemicals, is embedded in the eye, or if there is bleeding in the eye.

To make sure you have the latest first aid resources, download any of the free first aid charts on the Allens Training Sunshine Coast website, and download the free Allens Training first aid app.

Allens Training on the Sunshine Coast regularly delivers first aid training at our Birtinya training centre. We are committed to delivering quality training so you walk away with the skills you need.

If you would like to book into one of the Sunshine coast first aid courses, please book online, or phone 07 5438 8888 to find out more.


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