WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Well-researched home remedies can be wonderful. You can achieve some incredible relief from a plethora of natural ingredients (if you know what you’re doing), and sometimes it can even save you a trip to the emergency room.
However, every once in a while, a well-meaning home remedy goes wrong. That’s what happened to a Malaysian woman in June of 2019 after she decided that the cooling properties of mint toothpaste would work wonders in alleviating the pain of a hot oil burn on her hand.
Tried and tested home remedies for burns include cool water, aloe vera, tea bags, and even honey. And while all home remedies should be executed under the guidance of somebody who knows what they’re talking about, this woman’s doctor wants to make one thing perfectly clear: don’t use toothpaste!
Dr. Kamarul Ariffin, or “Dr. Chaku” as he is known on Twitter, shared a graphic photo of his patient’s swollen hand and urged others not to attempt the same remedy. You’d be forgiven for taking a second to work out what the picture is showing; the poor woman’s hand is swollen to double its original size, is misshapen, and covered in unsightly blisters.
We can only imagine how much pain she was in.
“If you experience burns,” the doctor warned on Twitter, “do not place toothpaste, oil of gamat, flour, soy sauce, [or] eggs on the burn area. It can cause severe inflammation and risk of infection,” he explained.
Doctor shares horrific photo showing why you should never use toothpaste to soothe burns https://t.co/1uZ3Ptssrr
— The Sun (@TheSun) June 15, 2019
The doctor added that if blisters occur as a result of a burn, the patient should never, under any circumstances, pop them. Pop-a-holics (and we know you’re out there), be warned. This could cause serious infection.
Dr. Ariffin advised, instead, that anybody who has been burned should follow two essential steps. First, remove any burnt clothing or jewelry from the area, unless it has become fused to the skin. Second, rinse the wound with clean, tepid water for up to 20 minutes. Do not use cold water or ice.
Barisan jurupulih fisioterapi kami.
“If it’s a first degree burn,” the doctor added, responding to anxious questioning from his followers on Twitter, “[you] can apply aloe vera. If it’s a second or third degree burn,” he continued, “see a doctor before applying anything.”
Dr. Ariffin also clarified that people with more serious burns, burns in sensitive areas, or burns larger than the palm of their hand should seek immediate medical attention.
Jika anda mengalami kelecuran, jangan letak ubat gigi, minyak gamat, tepung, kicap, telur dan sebagainya di kawasan lecuran.
Ia boleh menyebabkan inflamasi yang lebih teruk dan berisiko terkena jangkitan. pic.twitter.com/ikNKYgFGtd
— Kamarul Ariffin (@dr_chaku) June 12, 2019
Colgate, the manufacturers of the toothpaste that the Malaysian woman used in an attempt to soothe her own burn, issued a warning. “Toothpaste contains abrasives and detergents which work well for cleaning your teeth,” the company shared, according to The Mirror, “but not so well when in easing the pain of a burn.”
The Malaysian doctor’s sensible advice sparked a lively debate on social media. It quickly became apparent that the unfortunate victim of the mint-flavored home remedy experiment was not alone in thinking that toothpaste is a cure-all, miracle solution.
“So suggesting toothpaste for everything might not be the best idea after all,” wrote one sassy reader, according to The Sun.
While toothpaste is best at what it was designed for (yes, that’s right: cleaning teeth), numerous sources suggest that the mint-flavored paste has other beneficial applications. Imaginative life hacks include using toothpaste to polish silver, fix CD scratches, whiten piano keys, and clean shoes.
Notably, while these applications are very unlikely to give you blisters, none of them are officially endorsed by toothpaste-manufacturing companies. While your sneakers may benefit from a minty scrub, when it comes to your own skin, it is always best to seek the advice of a doctor before being seduced by home remedies.
We certainly hope that the woman pictured returned to full health and regained the full use of her hand after her worrying ordeal.