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What’s the Difference Between Neosporin, Bactine, and Hydrogen Peroxide?

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The time to learn about topical first-aid treatments is not when you’ve got a gash in your thumb and you’re bleeding on the carpet. The time is now, when (we hope) you’re not bleeding at all.

Here’s what you need to know about first-aid ointments, sprays, liquids, and creams: Some of them are helpful; some of them aren’t. Some may do more harm than good. All of them should be chucked and re-purchased once a year to ensure they’re still effective. None of them should ever be put on a burn—nor should butter, or ice, or any of those other wacky home burn treatments out there. Do not do it—leave your burns alone (unless the blister breaks or there is no blister, in which case bacitracin, and pretty much only bacitracin, is allowed in order to help prevent infection). 

Experts agree that the most important thing you can do is clean your wound and the surrounding area gently with soap and water, pat it dry, and apply an adhesive bandage. If the area around your wound starts getting red and inflamed, or the wound itself gets greenish or yellow or produces pus, or you develop a fever, get to a doctor. Skin infections are nothing to play around with.  

ANTIBIOTICS (NEOSPORIN, POLYSPORIN, BACITRACIN)

Ordinarily, your skin works hard to keep germs out. But an open wound is like an open invitation to bacteria, fungi, and other microbes. Applying antibiotic ointment after cleaning a wound and before applying a bandage may help stave off infection.  

Good for: Small cuts and scrapes

Won’t help with: Pain and itching (although some newer formulations contain mild anesthetics), existing infections, or burns

Warning: Don’t go overboard with this stuff. These ointments are like any other antibiotic treatment; used too liberally, they may actually encourage bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.

ANTISEPTICS (IODINE, HYDROGEN PEROXIDE, RUBBING ALCOHOL)

Antiseptics are best for helping clean the skin. Although they can kill bacteria, they’re frequently used to help slow its growth instead.

Good for: Cleaning small cuts, preparing for an injection, and swabbing the skin before removing a splinter

Won’t help with: Pain, itching, existing infections, or burns

Warning: Antiseptics can dry out the skin and even kill skin cells, so use these sparingly. 

ANESTHETICS (BACTINE, DERMOPLAST) 

Are your itchy bug bites driving you to distraction? Got a paper cut that just won’t stop stinging? You might benefit from a topical anesthetic.

Good for: Itching from bug bites and rashes; pain from mild burns, sunburn, and small wounds

Won’t help with: Wound healing

Warning: If you find yourself using a topical anesthetic for more than a few days, it's time to take a look at the source of your itching or stinging to make sure it's not infected or spreading.

All images courtesy of iStock 

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Stop Your Snoring and Track Your Sleep With a Wi-Fi Smart Pillow
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REM-Fit

Everyone could use a better night's rest. The CDC says that only 66 percent of American adults get as much sleep as they should, so if you're spending plenty of time in bed but mostly tossing and turning (or trying to block out your partner's snores), it may be time to smarten up your sleep accessories. As TechCrunch reports, the ZEEQ Smart Pillow improves your sleeping schedule in a multitude of ways, whether you're looking to quiet your snores or need a soothing lullaby to rock you to sleep.

After a successful Kickstarter in 2016, the product is now on sale and ready to get you snoozing. If you're a snorer, the pillow has a microphone designed to listen to the sound of your snores and softly vibrate so that you shift positions to a quieter pose. Accelerometers in the pillow let the sleep tracker know how much you're moving around at night, allowing it to record your sleep stages. Then, you can hook the pillow up to your Amazon Echo or Google Home so that you can have your favorite smart assistant read out the pillow's analysis of your sleep quality and snoring levels the next morning.

The pillow is also equipped with eight different wireless speakers that turn it into an extra-personal musical experience. You can listen to soothing music while you fall asleep, either connecting the pillow to your Spotify or Apple Music account on your phone via Bluetooth or using the built-in relaxation programs. You can even use it to listen to podcasts without disturbing your partner. You can set a timer to turn the music off after a certain period so you don't wake up in the middle of the night still listening to Serial.

And when it's time to wake up, the pillow will analyze your movements to wake you during your lightest sleep stage, again keeping the noise of an alarm from disturbing your partner.

The downside? Suddenly your pillow is just another device with a battery that needs to charge. And forget about using it in a place without Wi-Fi.

The ZEEQ Smart Pillow currently costs $200.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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Want to Fall Asleep Faster? Add This Tweak To Your Bedtime Routine
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There are countless reasons people have trouble falling asleep. It could be physiological, as in the case of airway-obstructing sleep apnea, or it could be because you’ve had too much caffeine too late in the day. But some of us experience delayed slumber for a different reason: Our racing minds can’t quite shift into a lower gear. If you fall into this hyper-vigilant category, there’s a side effect-free way to try and resolve the problem.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found that subjects who were tasked with writing out a to-do list for the following day (or days) before bed were able to fall asleep more quickly than other subjects who wrote about only what they had done that day.

The test, performed at Baylor University, recruited 57 people between the ages of 18 and 30 and kept them overnight in a sleep lab. Those who wrote down their planned tasks could use bullet points or paragraphs and fell asleep an average of nine minutes faster than subjects who didn’t. The more specific the list, the faster they were able to crash.

Researchers believe that the act of writing down responsibilities might be one way the brain can let go of a person’s obligations. (Thinking of what you have to do won’t have quite the same effect.) It was a small study, but considering how non-invasive it is, it might be worth trying if you're experiencing a lot of tossing and turning.

[h/t Travel+Leisure]

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