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Uses for rubbing alcohol you never knew about

Uses for rubbing alcohol you never knew about
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Due to the spread of COVID-19, you’re now likely to have a bottle (or few) of rubbing alcohol as your go-to disinfectant for killing germs. After all, rubbing alcohol is considered a powerful germicide, especially at concentrations of 60 per cent or more. The popular household item has many uses in the home for cleaning and disinfecting purposes, but what about when it comes to health ailments? To know how to use it safely and effectively, it’s important to first learn something about its composition.

Rubbing alcohol typically comprises of 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol, but the percentage can range from 60 to 99 per cent. This type of alcohol is different than ethanol or ethyl alcohol in liquor, beer and wine. Rubbing alcohol is colourless and looks a lot like water, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rubbing alcohol is one of the main ingredients in hand sanitiser. But this inexpensive household staple has health uses beyond DIY hand sanitiser to kill the germs that cause the COVID-19 virus. Take a look down below to see how you can use it for your own health.

Rubbing alcohol use: Removing splinters

Rubbing alcohol use: Removing splinters
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Rubbing alcohol can be used to disinfect your skin before you try to remove a splinter, says dermatologist Professor Adam Friedman. In these instances, pour some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and dab the area with the splinter, he says. You can also clean and disinfect your tweezers with alcohol before you attempt to remove the splinter, he adds.

Rubbing alcohol use: Daily insulin injections for diabetes

Rubbing alcohol use: Daily insulin injections for diabetes
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People with diabetes who need insulin injections to help control blood-sugar levels must clean and disinfect the area with an alcohol swab or rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton ball before injecting. It’s also important to wait until the alcohol has dried before you inject, the Association of Diabetes Educator Specialists reports.

Rubbing alcohol use: Trimming nails

Rubbing alcohol use: Trimming nails
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Wipe down your nail clippers or scissors with rubbing alcohol before you give yourself a manicure or pedicure or trim a child’s nails, suggests dermatologist Professor Angela J. Lamb. “You can apply it to a cotton ball and wipe the tools down or submerge them in rubbing alcohol,” she says. This 30-second exercise gets rid of germs.

Rubbing alcohol use: Popping a blister

Rubbing alcohol use: Popping a blister
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If you have a blister, wipe down your skin and any tool you plan to use to pop it with rubbing alcohol. This will help stave off infection, Dr Lamb says.

Now find out the best ways to stop a nose bleed.

Rubbing alcohol use: Ear piercing

Rubbing alcohol use: Ear piercing
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Newly pierced ears can become easily infected. Rubbing alcohol, when applied to a cotton ball and used to clean around the piercing twice daily, can help stave off infection. You coul also try using a thin coat of petroleum jelly around the opening.

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Rubbing alcohol use: Removing a tick

Rubbing alcohol use: Removing a tick
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Ticks can carry many types of disease, and therefore it’s important to remove any ticks you find on your body as quickly and safely as possible to minimise the risk of developing a tick-borne illness. To kill the tick, dab a scabies cream, like Lyclear, or squirt a freeze-spray, such as Tick Tox or Wart-off Freeze, onto the offending bug. It is important to kill the tick before you remove it or you risk being injected with its toxins. You can then let the tick drop off – which can take up to a day. Otherwise, clean your hands, your fine-tipped tweezers or tick twister and the bite area with rubbing alcohol before removing the tick. Lastly, apply a disinfectant on bite area and expect itchiness for up to a week.

Rubbing alcohol use: Disinfecting your thermometer

Rubbing alcohol use: Disinfecting your thermometer
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Rubbing alcohol can disinfect thermometers between uses, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. This holds for rectal and oral thermometers, the group says. Remember to let the alcohol dry entirely before using the thermometer.

Rubbing alcohol use: Nausea

Rubbing alcohol use: Nausea
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Breathing in the strong, pungent fumes of rubbing alcohol can curb nausea, says emergency physician Dr Robert Glatter. “Inhalation of rubbing alcohol was more effective than standard anti-nausea medications in some studies,” he says. “This can be accomplished by inhaling the vapour from alcohol prep pads.” It’s safe to try this at home in a pinch, he says, but avoid doing so repeatedly.

One way to stave off nausea is to handle food correctly to avoid food poisoning.

When rubbing alcohol is NOT helpful

When rubbing alcohol is NOT helpful
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As helpful as rubbing alcohol can be, there are instances where the disinfectant is not recommended as a do-it-yourself remedy, such as cleaning open wounds and cuts or treating acne breakouts.

To clean a cut, plain soap and water is better, Dr Lamb says. “If you have a cut that is not deep enough to need stitches, clean it with plain soap and water and keep covered,” she says. Rubbing alcohol may do more harm than good on open wounds. “It will burn and sting,” she says. “Rubbing alcohol also changes the skin’s pH level and disrupts your skin’s barrier. It de-greases skin and dries it out which can make it more prone to infection.” Your skin needs to keep a balance between alkaline and acidic – a neutral pH level; rubbing alcohol tends to be on the acidic side. By maintaining an optimal pH level, you’ll improve your skin’s barrier function and better retain moisture, Dr Lamb explains.

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