9 Products You Need for Your Home First Aid Kit
I have an active husband and I have a fearless 2 year old boy. Needless to say cuts, bumps, scrapes, bruises and (less frequently)burns are a common occurrence in our household. As a family we live a toxic-free, natural lifestyle (or least try our very best to!). So when it comes to the way we treat our wounds, we tend to follow suit. Did you know that there are in fact several effective and all natural alternatives to the usual OTC wound care products. The following are 9 of our favourites:
1. Manuka Honey
When it comes to wound care Manuka honey is simply in a class of its own. Compared to other types of honey, Manuka contains a nutrient with extraordinary antimicrobial qualities, called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). In a nutshell, the higher the concentration of UMF, the greater the antibacterial strength. Make sure you use a Manuka honey with a UMF of 10 or higher. Manuka also contains several other beneficial enzymes and anti-viral substances that promote faster healing with less chance of infection. It even actively promotes the growth of new epithelial cells making it particularly useful for mild burns or sunburn.
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is soothing, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, and can be used liberally on minor wounds of all kinds. Look for a pure aloe vera product (from health shops) or even better, grow a small aloe vera plant in your kitchen! Simply cut one of the leaves when you need it and use the fresh gel to soothe painful cuts, burns and scrapes.
Anti-inflammatory, astringent, antiseptic and mildly anti-microbial, calendula is a must in any home first aid kit. It is considered a vulnerary agent (a substance that promotes healing). Use topically to heal abrasions and skin infections. It even helps slow down bleeding.
4. Coconut oil
Coconut oil (amongst a million other things) can effectively heal wounds. It has amazing antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties and can even help fade scars from scrapes and cuts that have already healed. Apply directly on to the wound, cover with a plaster and refresh 2-3 times a day, to help speed recovery. Look for organic, unrefined, and cold-pressed coconut oil.
Witch hazel is one of the best general and all purpose remedies for wound care. It is a wonderful astringent that contains procyanidins, resin and flavonoids. It has both soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, and when applied to cuts or scrapes, is an effective disinfectant. When it comes to bruises and other wounds, witch hazel helps reduce swelling and speeds up recovery time. It can even help control bleeding. Simply apply to a fresh wound and wrap it up in gauze.
Comfrey contains a substance called allantoin (which literally helps cells grow faster), rosemarinic acid (anti-inflammatory) and mucilage (soothing properties). An ointment of comfrey heals tissue so quickly in fact, that it should not be used on an open wound unless it is thoroughly cleaned before application! If not, this could trap in dirt, and an infection could occur.
7. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree essential oil is one of the best ways to treat a wound to help prevent infection. It is a great antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. Apply tea tree oil directly on the wound in small amounts 3-5 times a day to effectively heal wounds quickly and efficiently.
Probiotics are an incredibly useful addition to your family first aid kit. Who would have guessed!? Simply add a powdered probiotic preparation to the wound to help reduce the risk of external infection and ward off pathogenic bacteria. Probiotics also aid in reducing inflammation and enhancing the healing process.
Arnica is a natural anti-inflammatory and is especially helpful with bruises, swelling, and other painful tenderness from sprains or strains. Use externally in the form of an oil or ointment.
Other Useful Tips:
Clean wounds carefully
Rinse under running water or wipe with organic cotton wool, from the centre of the injury outwards, to remove any grime. Also periodically throughout the healing process make sure the wound is cleaned with a gentle homemade saline solution or with neat calendula tincture (or, if you prefer, one part tincture to 10 parts water).
Always use organic cotton swabs, balls, band aids, and other forms of wound dressing. Cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops there is. Honestly, a pesticide or herbicide is the last thing you want touching the delicate skin of a cut or scrape!
A poor diet in general can sabotage healing and deficiencies of essential fatty acids, Vitamins A, B1, C, D, E and K, and zinc are associated with poor wound healing. Vitamin A helps to form scar tissue, B1 (thiamine) is needed for collagen synthesis and B5 (pantothenic acid) accelerates the healing process. Vitamin C promotes the formation of collagen and elastin, Vitamin E aids in the healing of skin grafts and zinc accelerates wound healing. Eat a wholesome diet and supplement with the highest quality Omega 3 fish oil and Multivitamin you can afford!
Boost your protein intake
Skin is made of protein and extra is required when you are injured. Extra is needed to manufacture immune cells and antibodies, to reduce inflammation and to mend the wound at the site of incision. Without enough protein recovery may be delayed and the risk of infection is higher.
When it comes to natural and home-based wound care please exercise common sense. If you are unsure or inexperienced rather consult with your trusted health care practitioner. I also advise that you thoroughly research the aforementioned products for yourself, then build your home first aid kit accordingly. Every family is different so please feel free to use only the products that you feel are appropriate for you.