If you've ever fried up some bacon and just tried to grab it out of the pan with your bare hands because the desire to eat it momentarily overpowered your ability to think thoughts, then you probably know what a burn feels like. And at that point, instinct kicks in: cold defeats hot, therefore we must apply something cold to the burn. You grab some ice or a bag of frozen peas to soothe the pain, figuring why else would the Ice Amulet be so effective against Fire Ogres in Orcs Must Die, if not to teach us proper medical treatment for burns?
"Everything I know about video games tells me this man should have lived."
But Actually ...
You might temporarily make the pain go away, but putting ice on a burn is sort of like stitching a wound with a nail gun -- you're just inflicting more damage. In one study on lab rats, researchers compared different remedies for burns, including a 10-minute application of ice cubes to the burn. They concluded that the ice cube treatment resulted in "the most severe damage," which careful readers will notice is not at all how remedies are supposed to work.
In another study, researchers gave 24 healthy volunteers first-degree burns and then measured how they responded to what was a lab equivalent of ice-cooling a burn. The study has proven that the line between "researcher" and "sadistic madman" is often nonexistent, and that ice-cooling a burn did not result in less pain and inflammation when compared to the "doing nothing at all" treatment.
"You call it laziness, I call it medicine."
The thing is that ice can cause frostbite, which in itself is a form of burn and can only worsen the injury. Have you ever responded to a sudden cold breeze by lighting yourself on fire? It's kind of the same logic.
What Can You Do Instead?
If you want immediate cooling, you can run some tap water over the burn to soothe the pain. Covering the burn with a sterile gauze bandage prevents air from getting to it, which will help further reduce the pain. Painkillers are also good for reducing pain, but hopefully you didn't need a comedy website to bring you such groundbreaking insights.
Our sources include that one time we took a ton of Vicodin and let our friend Chad try the knife trick from Aliens.
At some point in humanity's long history of terrible ideas, somebody got stung by a jellyfish and somebody else decided to unzip their pants and try to piss it better. The remedy was popularized in that Friends episode where Chandler had to pee on Monica's sting, and it's entered our mythology as the right thing to do because we are the kind of society that gets its medical advice from 1990s sitcoms. And yes, we're aware that we are a pop culture comedy site and we're making that joke immediately before doling out medical advice.
The Cracked health plan consists primarily of various dilutions of tiger penis.
But Actually ...
If you're stung by a jellyfish and someone starts spraying their pee all over it, you're going to wind up in more pain than you were before. You see, jellyfish stinging cells are actually activated by fresh water. That's their cue to start pumping venom into your flesh. Surprise: Your urine is mostly fresh water. If it's not, you have far bigger problems than jellyfish stings to worry about.
So you no doubt think, as Chandler did, that you're heroically coming to a woman's rescue by bucking up and doing what needs to be done, gross as that may be. But if Friends were realistic, she'd be shrieking in pain as though he was pissing acid. That'd be the rest of the episode: Monica lying in a puddle of piss, howling in pain, and begging him to kill her for 20 straight minutes until they just cut to commercial.
Although this assumes that Monica was not into watersports.
What Can You Do Instead?
The most important thing is to try to get rid of the stinging cells. You can try to scrape these away with something (like a credit card). Afterward you can pour some salt water on the sting. Salt water, unlike urine, deactivates the stinging cells and eases the pain. As for the urine myth, professionals concede that, after the stingers have been removed, "warm urine might soothe the sting based on its warmth alone." You know what else can do that? Literally anything else in the world that happens to be warm.
For more ways you're making it harder on yourself, check out 6 Life Saving Techniques From the Movies (That Can Kill You). Or learn about 8 Medical Terms Your Doctor Uses to Insult You.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Why the Scooby-Doo Mystery Team Is Terrible At Mysteries.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to give your cat the heimlich.
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