Nasal Spray Helps Pimples? Plus 6 More Drugstore Fixes
Surprise use: Providing relief for itching, burning and irritation affecting your feet, or your husband's man parts, or your child's baby parts.
"Miconazole, the antifungal agent in Monistat, is an effective treatment for athlete's foot as well as jock itch," says Isaac M. Neuhaus, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of California in San Francisco. The different yeasts causing these infections are all part of the same family. Feet usually take about a month to respond to twice-daily applications, while your partner should experience relief in two weeks, and your baby's diaper rash should clear up in a few days. (Keep in mind that this doesn't work both ways, and you should never use medication on your vagina that wasn't specifically formulated for that area).
Surprise use: Calming down the pimple on your nose.
Most allergy doctors will warn against using OTC nasal sprays for more than three days, because your nasal tissues can become accustomed to the decongestant and begin to overcompensate. Here's one way to use the leftover liquid: dab it on a pimple. "Products like Afrin or Dristan contain oxymetazoline, which constricts blood vessels under the skin and takes away redness on top of it," says Maria Marzella Mantione, an associate clinical professor at St. John's University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and a national spokeswoman for the American Pharmacists Association.
Surprise use: Getting rid of a nagging wart.
Aspirin belongs to a family of compounds called salicylates, which are in the same family as salicylic acid—the active ingredient in most OTC wart medication. Mantione suggests taking two plain, non-coated Bayer tablets, grinding them up and adding a little bit of water to make a paste. Apply this to the affected area every day. "It could take 8 to 12 weeks to work," she says, but that's still on-pace with most OTC wart removers.
Surprise use: Helping to clear up discolored patches that appear on the back, underarms, upper arms, chest and neck (they're reddish-tan on light skin and white on darker skin).
This relatively common rash is actually a skin fungus known to dermatologists as tinea versicolor, and while it can be stubborn, it usually responds well to this treatment. "Choose a shampoo that contains selenium sulfide, then lather up the affected area, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and rinse," says Neuhaus (you can treat your scalp and your skin at the same time). You should see results in about a week.
Surprise use: Closing a cut caused by accidentally breaking a wine glass.
It's not ideal, but this heavy-duty glue will work in a pinch. First rinse any blood and debris from the area. "Squeeze the sides of the skin together before applying the glue, and be extremely careful not to get any in the open wound," says Cathleen London, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, and an assistant attending physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The glue should hold long enough for the cut to heal.
Surprise use: Protecting yourself from sunburn.
Desitin contains about 20 percent zinc oxide, which is also a nonirritating physical sunblock, says Mantione. But as moms know, this paste goes on white and doesn't absorb into the skin, so it's best used when you've run out of sunscreen and don't mind looking like an ’80s lifeguard.
Surprise use: Relieving minor burns and insect bites.
When a burn or sting causes skin to turn red, most people reach for a topical lotion or gel, says Mantione. Instead, she recommends popping two Motrin, because this NSAID is a more effective treatment that will work with your body to halt the inflammatory process, and will also relieve swelling.
Next: Dr. Oz's surprising summer first aid fixes