Medical News Today: How to use essential oils for scars

Some people use certain essential oils — such as Helichrysum, lavender, or tea tree oils — on the skin to promote wound healing and reduce the appearance of scars.

While there has been little research into the effects of essential oils on scars, these oils may be helpful complements to traditional treatments.

This article investigates which essential oils may help with scarring, how to use them, and the evidence for their effectiveness.

Can essential oils help with scars?

Helichrysum which can be an Essential oil for scars
Helichrysum oil may help kill bacteria in a wound.

Essential oils are made from plants, and each oil has a different chemical makeup.

Aromatherapists and other practitioners of alternative medicine use these oils to treat a range of health issues. The issues could be physical, such as joint pain or nausea. Or, as in the case of stress or anxiety, the issues could relate to mental and emotional health.

Scars typically form when an injury penetrates past the first layer of skin. Scars can be sunken or raised, and they may be pink at first. After it heals, a scar usually looks darker or lighter than the skin around it.

Certain essential oils have anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial properties — or sometimes both. Keeping infection and inflammation at bay can help wounds heal and improve skin health overall.

Using essential oils while a wound is healing may help minimize any scarring. However, older scars are much harder to treat, and it may not be possible to make them less visible. Many scars fade over time with exposure to sunlight.

Use essential oils with care, as they can interact with medications and other remedies, and they may cause side effects. Essential oils are generally not safe to use during pregnancy.

Below, we look at the research into the effects of popular essential oils for scars and wound healing.

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There are more than 600 species of flowering plants in the Helichrysum genus, but the essential oil is known simply as Helichrysum oil.

These plants grow in Mediterranean countries, such as Italy and Spain, and many practitioners of traditional medicine in the region make use of the plants’ flowers and leaves.

Research in the laboratory indicates that one species, Helichrysum italicum, may have antimicrobial properties, meaning that it may kill microorganisms, such as bacteria. This could prevent infection and encourage wound healing, potentially resulting in less scarring.

The findings of other laboratory-based studies indicate that Helichrysum italicum may combat inflammation. An inflamed or irritated wound is slower to heal and may leave a worse scar.


a bottle of Lavender oil.
A person may find that lavender oil improves their sleep.

People commonly use lavender essential oil to promote calmness and encourage sleep. The oil comes from the flowers and leaves of the plant.

Some practitioners of alternative medicine use lavender to treat wounds and skin conditions. A 2016 study in rats suggested that lavender oil could promote healing.

When applied to a wound, the essential oil seemed to encourage new tissue to grow.


Manufacturers produce essential oil from the leaves of this flowering shrub. Some people use geranium oil to treat anxiety and stress, as well as skin disorders, such as eczema.

Some research indicates that geranium oil has antibacterial properties, meaning that it may help keep wounds clean and encourage healing, which can help prevent or reduce scarring.


Healers in ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt used chamomile as a medicinal herb. Today, it is a common ingredient in herbal teas, creams, and essential oil blends.

Some practitioners of alternative medicine use chamomile to treat anxiety, stomach problems, and skin conditions.

Like other essential oils, chamomile may help stop microbes from entering a wound. Researchers have also found that chamomile may promote wound healing and reduce inflammation.

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Tea tree

Tea tree oil is one of the most widely used essential oils. Manufacturers use steam to distill the oil from tea tree leaves.

Only apply tea tree oil to the skin — do not swallow it.

Tea tree oil may help support the immune system. A healthy immune system is better at healing injuries, which could result in reduced scarring.

Researchers have also long recognized the antimicrobial and antifungal effects of tea tree oil, which can help prevent infection in healing skin.

How to use essential oils

a woman applying oil to her skin.
A person should dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying them to the skin.

Use essential oils with care, as they can irritate the skin, interact with medications and other remedies, and cause other side effects.

To help wounds heal and prevent scars, apply the essential oil directly to the skin. However, make sure to dilute it first.

Dilute essential oils in a carrier oil. Below are common examples of carrier oils, with links to where they can be purchased online:

Adding 15 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil results in 2.5% dilution, which is effective for adults. If a person wishes, they can strengthen the solution, up to 10% dilution. This involves 60 drops of essential oil for every 1 ounce of carrier oil.

Learn more about carrier oils here.

Before using the blend of oils, mix it thoroughly. Thicker carrier oils, such as coconut oil, may need to be warmed slightly before it will mix well. Allow the mixture to cool before applying it to the skin.

Test the diluted essential oil mixture on a small patch of unbroken skin and leave it on for 24 hours. If the oil does not cause any irritation, it should be safe to use.

Apply a thin layer of the mixture to a scar or around a healing wound. Repeat the application as often as necessary, and stop using it if any irritation occurs.

Do not let undiluted essential oil touch the skin. Also, some oils can be dangerous to children, pregnant women, and pets, so it is important to consider others when using these remedies.

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To minimizing scarring, it is important to help the skin heal. Keep the wound and the area around it clean. Covering it and changing the dressing daily can help.

Essential oils may play a role in wound care. Using certain diluted essential oils may combat infection and inflammation.

If a person already has a scar, using a sunscreen with high SPF while outdoors can help the scar fade more quickly.

The essential oils above are available at health stores, drugstores, and online:

Shop for Helichrysum oil.

Shop for lavender oil.

Shop for geranium oil.

Shop for chamomile oil.

Shop for tea tree oil.

Determining the effects of essential oils will require further research. They may have benefits when a person uses them alongside more established treatments.

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Medical News Today: What can cause rectal pain?

The rectum is the lower part of the large intestine, and it ends at the anus. Injury, inflammation, and infections that affect the anus and rectum can cause rectal pain.

Several clues can help a healthcare professional determine the cause of rectal pain.

For instance, determining when the pain occurs — such as when sitting or during a bowel movement — and uncovering any additional symptoms can help narrow down the cause.

Other common symptoms include itching, stinging, bleeding, and stomach cramps.

Rectal pain has a wide variety of causes, from minor to serious. Because pain around the rectum has so many possible sources, it is important to get a proper diagnosis.

Causes of rectal pain include the following:


a woman in a dressing gown experiencing pain on the toilet.
Possible causes of rectal pain include hemorrhoids, muscle spasms, and fecal impaction.

Hemorrhoids are veins in the anus that have swollen up.

They may develop on the inside or outside of the rectum.

Hemorrhoids are a common cause of rectal discomfort, especially if they are on the inside.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 50% of adults over the age of 50 develop hemorrhoids.

The veins in the anus may swell more often when a person has trouble having a bowel movement and pushes forcefully. Pushing during childbirth also increases a person’s risk of developing hemorrhoids.

Along with rectal pain, hemorrhoids may cause additional symptoms, including:

  • swelling around the rectal opening
  • itching
  • burning

Anal fissures

An anal fissure is a small cut or tear in the skin that lines the rectal opening.

They usually develop due to stretching or straining the tissue at the opening of the rectum. Similar to hemorrhoids, anal fissures occur as a result of bearing down during childbirth or passing a hard stool.

Other symptoms of an anal fissure include:

  • burning
  • increased rectal pain during bowel movements
  • blood in the stool

Muscle spasms

Like all muscles, those around the rectum may spasm, and this can cause pain.

Rectal spasms may only last a few seconds or several minutes. Brief rectal spasms are called proctalgia fugax.

Certain things may trigger a spasm, such as having a bowel movement, sexual activity, or constipation. Spasms may also occur for no known reason.

Some research suggests that proctalgia is common and may occur in up to about 18% of the population. Proctalgia most often develops in adults ages 30–60, and it is more common in women.

Levator ani syndrome is a variation of proctalgia fugax. It involves spasms and rectal pain that may last for as long as 20 minutes. Other symptoms of rectal spasms include:

  • sudden rectal pain
  • pain that worsens when sitting

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Fecal impaction

Fecal impaction is a hard stool that is stuck in the rectum. Chronic constipation is the most frequent cause of fecal impaction.

Other symptoms of fecal impaction may include:

  • bloating
  • stomach pain
  • nausea

Bowel conditions

a woman suffering from stomach cramps
A bowel condition may cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, and a decreased appetite.

Certain bowel conditions can cause inflammation in the intestines, including the rectum.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can cause pain in the lower intestinal tract.

Other symptoms of these bowel conditions include:

  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • decreased appetite
  • blood in the stool

Sexually transmitted infections

Although not as common as other causes, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can spread to the rectum from the genitals and cause pain. Various types of STIs can spread, including human papillomavirus, herpes, and chlamydia.

Other symptoms of STIs affecting the rectum may include:

  • itching
  • rectal discharge
  • burning
  • bleeding

Rectal prolapse

A rectal prolapse occurs when part or all of the rectum slides out through the anal opening.

The condition is not common, and the cause is not clear. However, up to 67% of people who experience a rectal prolapse have long term constipation. It is also much more common in women over the age of 50.

Other symptoms of rectal prolapse include:

  • a bulge outside the anus
  • leaking stool
  • pain during bowel movements

Anal sex

The skin around the rectum is very sensitive. Friction from sexual activity involving the anus can cause small tears, irritation, swelling, or bleeding. This is partly because the anus does not produce its own lubrication.

Anal sex is mostly safe. If a person experiences pain during or after anal sex, they can try using foreplay and plenty of lubricant to prevent pain in future.

Learn about how practice anal sex safely here.

Rectal abscess

A rectal abscess is a pus filled infection in the glands or cavities that surround the rectum or the anus. Bacteria may get into the cavities, causing an infection.

Other symptoms of a rectal abscess may include:

  • painful urination
  • fever
  • swelling around the rectum

Inflammation of the rectal lining

Inflammation of the lining of the rectum develops most often from bowel disease. In addition to rectal discomfort, other symptoms of inflammation around the rectal lining may include:

  • rectal bleeding
  • diarrhea
  • a feeling of pressure in the rectum


Rectal or anal cancer can also cause rectal discomfort. However, most cases of rectal pain are not due to cancer.

Still, it is important to recognize other signs of rectal cancer, including:

  • a change in bowel habits
  • rectal pain that gets worse or does not go away
  • blood in the stool
  • unintentional weight loss

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Pain relief

The treatment options for rectal pain usually depend on the cause.

For example, treatment for fecal impaction may include a medical procedure to remove the impacted stool. Treatment for STIs often involves medications.

To relieve general rectal pain, people can try:

  • taking a sitz bath, or sitting in warm water for 15–20 minutes
  • applying a topical numbing ointment
  • taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication
  • eating a diet high in fiber and drinking plenty of water to prevent constipation and straining during a bowel movement
  • using a stool softener, which makes it easier and less painful to have a bowel movement
  • sitting on a cushion, which may decrease the pressure on the rectum
  • taking antibiotics for bacterial infections

When to see a doctor

female doctor speaking in office to female patient
A person should talk to their doctor if rectal pain lasts longer than a few days.

Rectal pain often goes away quickly without needing to see a healthcare provider. However, there are instances when it is important to see a doctor.

Consider visiting a healthcare provider if:

  • the pain lasts for longer than a few days
  • the pain becomes severe or spreads to other areas of the body
  • a fever is present
  • there is ongoing rectal bleeding
  • a lump is present at the anal opening
  • there has been trauma to the anus


Rectal pain might occur briefly and usually does not indicate a serious condition, especially when it only happens occasionally.

However, there are times when it is a symptom of something more serious, such as inflammatory bowel disease or an STI.

Although many cases of rectal pain are treatable with home remedies, it may be necessary to see a doctor in some instances, such as if rectal pain worsens or does not go away.

Anyone who develops rectal pain and is concerned should see their healthcare provider.

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Medical News Today: How to recognize Candida in stool

Candida is a type of yeast that grows in the body in areas such as the mouth, gut, and vagina. At normal levels, it does not cause any problems, but when a person has an overgrowth of Candida in the gut, it can appear in stools.

Environmental changes in the body, certain health issues, and the use of antibiotics can encourage the growth of Candida. If there is an overgrowth of Candida, it can cause an infection called candidiasis.

In this article, we discuss the signs and symptoms of Candida in stools and elsewhere in the body, as well as how to treat it.

Signs and symptoms

A man about to find out if he has candida in his stool
White, yellow, or brown mucus in the stool may indicate Candida.

Although the presence of Candida in stools can indicate an overgrowth, this is not always the case.

In fact, researchers have found Candida in around 65% of stools from healthy adults.

Most people might not know they have Candida in their stools until they become aware of the following:

  • white, yellow, or brown mucus
  • a white, yellow, or light brown string-like substance
  • froth or foam
  • loose stools or diarrhea

If people have a Candida overgrowth, they may also experience the following symptoms:

Other symptoms of a Candida overgrowth depend on where the yeast is in the body. In the sections below, we look at symptoms that may develop when Candidaoccurs in different locations within the body:


Symptoms include:

  • white areas inside the mouth
  • red, inflamed tissue underneath the white patches, which may bleed
  • cracked corners of the mouth


Symptoms include:

  • pain when swallowing
  • chest pain under the breastbone


Symptoms include:

  • itchy or sore vagina and vulva
  • thick, white discharge
  • pain during urination or sex
  • burning sensation


Sometimes, Candida can spread to infect the blood. This is known as deep, or invasive, candidiasis, and it can be life threatening.

Invasive candidiasis can cause shock and organ failure. If a person who is receiving antibacterial treatment for a Candida infection has fever and chills that do not go away, they should seek immediate medical attention.

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Medication use, certain health conditions, and lifestyle factors can all cause the balance of microbes and moisture levels in the body to change.

These changes can encourage the Candida yeast to grow and cause an infection.

In the sections below, we look at some possible causes in more detail:

Antibiotic use

Healthful bacteria help keep Candida in check.

Antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as bad bacteria, which can affect the balance of microbes in the body. This can cause an overgrowth of Candida.

Gastrointestinal disorders

woman holding stomach due to lactose intolerance or crohn s
A person with a gastrointestinal disorder may have high levels of Candida in their stool.

Some research found that people with gastrointestinal issues had high levels of Candida in their stool. These conditions included:

Many researchers believe that the inflammation these conditions cause and develop from promotes Candida growth, which then results in further inflammation.

Weakened immune system

People with health conditions that weaken the immune system — such as HIV, AIDS, and some cancers — may be more at risk of experiencing Candida overgrowth.

This is because the body is less able to fight off infections.


Diabetes can increase the risk of a Candida overgrowth because high blood sugar levels encourage the yeast to grow.

Learn how to manage diabetes better here.

Oral contraceptives

Oral contraceptives may increase the risk of vaginal candidiasis.


High levels of stress may increase the risk of a Candida infection.

One study from 2010 found that exposing healthy rats to stress led to increased levels of Candida on the rats’ tongues.


Smoking can also increase the risk of a Candida overgrowth, especially in the form of oral thrush.

One study from 2006 found that in participants who smoked, 58% had Candida present in their stools, while only 29% of nonsmokers had Candida present.

As well as reducing the risk of Candida overgrowth, quitting smoking has many other health benefits. Learn more here.

Other factors

Other risk factors for Candida overgrowth include the use of:

  • corticosteroids
  • excessive alcohol
  • herb medication


A doctor will take a stool sample to determine if there is a Candida overgrowth present.

Many healthy people have Candida in their stools, so a doctor may also carry out other tests to check for an overgrowth.

They will carry out a physical examination and take a medical history to determine if antibiotic use could be causing the Candida overgrowth.

If Candida is affecting a specific area of the body, the doctor may take a skin sample from the area.


woman speaking with her doctor
A person should talk to their doctor about possible treatment options for Candida.

A doctor may prescribe antifungal medication to treat the Candida overgrowth and return the fungi to normal levels.

Potential side effects of antifungal drugs may include feeling nauseous, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Common antifungal medication for Candida infections include:

  • polyenes, such as nystatin and amphotericin B
  • azoles, such as fluconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole

People can take antifungal medications orally to treat Candida infections in the mouth and esophagus.

Topical antifungal creams can treat Candida infections on the skin.

For vaginal Candida infections, antifungal medication is available as a cream, tablet, or suppository.

People with an invasive Candida infection will require intravenous antifungal medication.

Probiotics may also work to treat an overgrowth. Probiotics are live microorganisms that can help restore good bacteria in the body and restrict the growth of Candida.


People may be able to prevent a Candida overgrowth by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example, a person can strive to:

  • keep the skin clean and dry, as fungi thrive in moist, warm environments
  • only use antibiotics when necessary and as intended
  • avoid or limit the intake of processed or sugary foods
  • keep blood sugar levels in check, as this can help prevent Candida infection
  • quit smoking or do not start
  • avoid heavy alcohol consumption

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People may notice an overgrowth of Candida if they find white mucus, foam, or a string-like substance in their stools.

Other symptoms of a Candida overgrowth depend on where the infection occurs in the body.

A Candida overgrowth is usually easily treatable, and with the correct treatment, it will have no long lasting health effects.

Otherwise healthy people may be able to treat a Candida overgrowth with a single dose of an antifungal medication.

Candida infections may take longer to treat and may reoccur in people who:

  • are taking or have taken antibiotics over a long period
  • have a weakened immune system
  • have a chronic illness

If a Candida infection spreads to the blood, early diagnosis and treatment are vital to prevent the infection from spreading to major organs.

A doctor will prescribe antifungal medication, or potentially probiotics, to treat an overgrowth of Candida.

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Medical News Today: Can a yeast infection cause bleeding?

Can a yeast infection cause bleeding? What you need to know

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Medical News Today: Apple cider vinegar pills: Health claims and evidence

Apple cider vinegar is a type of fermented vinegar made from apples. Pills made from apple cider vinegar make this sour liquid easier to consume. People who promote natural health products claim that this vinegar offers numerous health benefits.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) pills contain a dehydrated form of the vinegar. Some brands of ACV pills may include other ingredients, such as cayenne pepper or ginger.

This article outlines the scientific research on apple cider vinegar (ACV) for a range of different ailments. We also discuss the risks and potential side effects of ACV.

Claimed benefits

a woman about to swallow some Apple cider vinegar pills
There is little research into the health benefits of ACV pills.

Proponents of ACV claim that it offers numerous health benefits. We list some of the most popular claims below.

However, people should note that most research into ACV involves the vinegar in liquid form.

Very little information is available about ACV in pill form, and any findings relating to liquid ACV may not translate to ACV pills.

Controlling yeast and other fungi

People who promote ACV claim that it may help treat certain types of fungal infection, such as Candida infections. Candida is the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections and oral thrush. Candida inside the mouth can also infect dentures.

A 2014 study found that a denture soak containing 4% ACV could prevent Candida from sticking to dentures.

The 30-minute denture soak also did not affect the surface roughness of the dentures, nor did it change their color. This suggests that a denture soak containing ACV may be a safe and effective way to prevent fungal infections of dentures.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that ACV pills would have this effect.

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Lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease risk

Lipids are fatty substances in blood and body tissues. High levels of specific lipids in the blood can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Supporters of ACV claim that it can lower the levels of blood lipids that damage health, such as triglycerides and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol.

A 2011 animal study investigated the effects of ACV in rats that ate a high cholesterol diet. Researchers found that ACV lowered the rats’ triglyceride levels. However, ACV also raised levels of LDL cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol.

So far, studies on ACV and heart disease have focused on animals. It is therefore not possible to conclude the effects of ACV on human health.

However, current research suggests that the benefits do not outweigh the risks. Many experts believe that lifestyle changes and medication are probably more effective.

Treating or preventing bacterial infections

A 2018 study found that ACV has antimicrobial properties that are effective against various strains of bacteria. This suggests ACV may be useful as a bacterial disinfectant. However, using ACV to treat wounds can irritate and even burn the skin.

Controlling blood glucose and diabetes

a man eating lunch at a table.
Consuming ACV at mealtimes may help people with metabolic disorders.

Some people claim that ACV can cure diabetes. While there is no evidence to support this claim, several small studies suggest that ACV may help to control blood glucose.

A 2017 meta-analysis found that consuming ACV at mealtimes helped lower post meal blood glucose and insulin levels. This was the case for people with metabolic disorders, as well as healthy controls.

ACV may, therefore, be useful alongside standard treatments for diabetes. However, scientists need to carry out further research to confirm these effects.

Supporting weight loss

Some smaller studies suggest that ACV may improve weight loss. A 2018 randomized controlled trial found that taking ACV could increase weight loss among people consuming a reduced calorie diet (RCD).

Researchers divided the participants into two groups. The first group consumed a RCD along with 30 milliliters (ml) of ACV per day, and the second group followed the RCD only. After 12 weeks, the researchers compared the two groups.

Participants in the first group showed significant reductions in body weight, hip circumference, appetite, and the amount of fat surrounding the internal organs.

This data does not point to ACV alone as a remedy for weight loss. However, it does suggest that it might help people following an RCD lose more weight.

Reducing blood pressure

Supporters of ACV claim that the vinegar may lower blood pressure. One small animal study investigated this claim. The study involved feeding either ACV or acetic acid to rats with high blood pressure. Acetic acid is the main therapeutic component of ACV.

The rats that received the acetic acid showed more significant reductions in blood pressure compared with the other rats. These rats also had lower levels of renin in the blood. Renin is an enzyme that is involved in increasing blood pressure.

The researchers suggest that the acetic acid in the vinegar was responsible for reducing renin levels, which in turn, caused the drop in blood pressure.

ACV may indirectly lower blood pressure by helping people lose weight. However, there is no evidence that ACV alone causes weight loss.

As a result, people who are concerned about weight or blood pressure should focus on dietary and lifestyle changes. People can also talk to their doctor about medical treatments.

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Risks and side effects

For most people, ACV is safe in moderate doses. However, being an acid, drinking ACV may erode tooth enamel. It may also cause stomach discomfort, especially in people with a history of reflux or ulcers. Very high doses can injure the throat.

Because ACV can affect blood glucose levels, some people, including those who take insulin and those with a with a history of low blood sugar, should check with a doctor before taking ACV.

Most of the evidence for ACV side effects come from individual case reports rather than well controlled clinical trials. For this reason, doctors cannot be sure about which side effects a person might experience, or at what dosage.

As a result, it is essential to start with a low dose and monitor any side effects. People with chronic health conditions should see a doctor before trying ACV.


a woman deciding what to buy from a pharmacy shelve.
ACV supplements are available in a range of concentrations.

Most research on ACV has focused on its liquid form, and not on pills. As such, the ideal dosage is unclear.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved ACV. Different manufacturers may sell the supplement in a range of concentrations. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do not exceed the recommended dosage.

Many studies have looked at ACV dosages of around a tablespoon per day. Much higher dosages may increase the risk of side effects and injury.

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ACV pills are generally safe for healthy people to use. They are not a replacement for medications to lower blood pressure or cholesterol. However, they may complement prescription medications and increase the effects of a healthful diet.

ACV also possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties, which may protect against certain bacterial and fungal infections.

As with all supplements, talk to a doctor who is knowledgeable about supplements before trying ACV pills.

Apple cider vinegar pills are available to purchase in stores and online.

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Medical News Today: Why have my toes turned red?

A person’s toes can appear red due to cold weather, injury, infection, or other medical conditions. The redness usually goes away on its own, though some underlying causes require treatment.

This article will look at some of the most common causes of red toes. We also describe treatments and offer some tips for prevention.


Red Toes that have Chilblains. Image credit: Sapp, 2019
Chilblains may appear on the skin as a result of exposure to cold weather.
Image credit: Sapp, 2019

Chilblains are red or purple marks that appear after the skin has been exposed to cold weather. They may feel itchy. Another name for these marks is perniosis.

Chilblains develop shortly after exposure to the cold, and they often become more visible if a person warms the skin quickly, for example, in front of a fire or heater.

The exact cause is unknown, but they may occur when small blood vessels are warmed faster than the larger vessels can handle. This can cause blood to leak into the soft tissues.

They look like red or purple blotches and tend to appear on the toes, fingers, nose, cheeks, or ears. Chilblains can turn into blisters or ulcers over time, and these can be very painful.

Chilblains are more common in children and young and middle-aged women. The following factors also increase a person’s risk of developing them:

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Raynaud’s disease

Raynaud’s disease, or Raynaud’s phenomenon, is a rare condition that affects the blood vessels in the fingers and toes.

When someone with this condition is cold or stressed, their blood vessels can narrow. This keeps blood from reaching the surface of the skin in some areas of the body, and these areas may turn white or blue. The skin tends to turn red and tingle as the blood returns.

Experts do not know what causes Raynaud’s disease. It is more common in women and people over the age of 30. In severe cases, the loss of blood flow can lead to sores or death of the affected tissue, requiring amputation.

People with Raynaud’s disease are also more likely to develop chilblains after being exposed to cold weather.


Feet with Bunions
A person with low arches, flat feet, or loose joints may develop bunions.

A bunion is a fluid-filled sac that surrounds and cushions the joint of the big toe. It develops when the bone that connects the toe to the foot turns outward. This pushes the big toe inward, toward the other toes, and makes the joint jut out.

Most shoes put pressure on bunions. Over time, the joint can swell and become red, stiff, and painful.

Bunions tend to run in families because foot shape is hereditary. People with low arches, flat feet, or loose joints are more likely to develop them.

For those at risk, wearing narrow or high-heeled shoes can prompt the development of bunions or make them worse.

They are more common in females and more symptomatic in people who spend a lot of time on their feet.


Skin and nail infections can cause redness, swelling, and pain in the toes. Bacteria or fungi are usually responsible for these infections.

Nail infections, or paronychia, can cause a swollen bump to form around the nail, and this bump may leak pus.

Broken, or fractured, toes

The term “broken toe” refers to a fracture — possibly a traumatic or stress fracture — in the bone of the toe.

A traumatic fracture, also called an acute fracture, results from an impact or direct blow. This injury can occur when a person drops something heavy on the area or severely stubs their toe.

Signs of a traumatic fracture include:

  • a sound at the time of the injury
  • pain at the point of impact that may last for a few hours
  • a crooked or abnormal appearance to the toe
  • redness followed by bruising and swelling the next day

Stress fractures, or hairline fractures, do not usually cause bruising or redness. They are tiny breaks in the bone, and repetitive stress is usually the cause. They often affect athletes and people who have osteoporosis or foot abnormalities.

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When red toes require treatment, the best choice depends on the cause of the discoloration:


Over-the-counter steroid creams can treat chilblains. A person can find these in drugstores or choose between brands online.

Doctors also advise people not to scratch at the marks and to keep any blistered or ulcerated areas clean and dry to avoid infection.

To help prevent chilblains from forming on the toes, keep the feet warm and dry.

Anyone who experiences reoccurring chilblains should speak to a doctor, who may recommend treatment with a drug that makes the blood vessels thicker.

It is also worth noting that smoking damages blood circulation. Quitting smoking can help prevent chilblains.

Raynaud’s disease

A doctor may recommend medication that helps keep the blood vessels open.

The following tips can help people deal with the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease at home:

  • Soak the feet in warm water at the first sign of symptoms.
  • Always keep the hands and feet warm when the weather is cold.
  • Try to avoid triggers, such as certain medicines and stress.


Wearing shoes with wide, flexible soles and enough room for the toes can help ease the pain of bunions. Sandals, shoes made from soft materials, and low heels are good options.

Try to protect the bunion using a bandage or gel-filled pad. These pads are available for purchase online.

Maintaining a healthy weight will also help with the symptoms.

When a bunion becomes sore or irritated, try:

  • soaking the foot in warm water
  • wrapping the area in an ice pack
  • taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • massaging the area

If the pain of bunions is interfering with activities, speak to a doctor. They may recommend cortisone injections or, in severe cases, surgery.

Traumatic toe fracture

a woman tying up her laces on her trainers
A person with a toe fracture should wear stiff-soled shoes until it heals.

Some traumatic toe fractures heal on their own with rest. Others require a splint to keep the bone in a fixed position while it heals.

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons recommend that anyone with a fractured toe wear stiff-soled shoes to protect the toe and help keep it in position.

In severe cases, a doctor may recommend surgery. This usually involves fixation devices, such as pins.


A number of health issues can cause red toes. These range from short term injuries to long term disorders affecting blood circulation. Treatment and prevention will depend on the cause of the discoloration.

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Medical News Today: How to improve your memory: 8 techniques to try

Most people have occasional lapses in memory, such as forgetting a new acquaintance’s name or misplacing the car keys.

Most of the time, this is simply a sign that a person is a bit too busy or is preoccupied. On the other hand, having a consistently poor memory can be problematic for someone.

Many factors play a role in memory loss, including genetics, age, and medical conditions that affect the brain. There are also some manageable risk factors for memory loss, such as diet and lifestyle.

While not all memory loss is preventable, people may be able to take measures to protect the brain against cognitive decline as they age.

In this article, learn about eight techniques to try to help improve your memory.

1. Do brain training

a man improving his memory with a brain training exercise on an iPad
There are many brain training activities online that may help improve a person’s memory.

In a similar way to muscles, the brain needs regular use to stay healthy. Mental workouts are just as essential to gray matter as other factors, and challenging the mind can help it grow and expand, which may improve memory.

A large trial from the journal PLoS One found that people who did just 15 minutes of brain training activities at least 5 days a week had improvements in brain function.

The participants’ working memory, short term memory, and problem solving skills all significantly improved when researchers compared them to a control group doing crossword puzzles.

The researchers used brain training activities from the website Lumosity. The challenges work on a person’s ability to recall details and quickly memorize patterns.

2. Exercise

Physical exercise has a direct impact on brain health. As the author of research in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation notes, regular exercise reduces the risk of cognitive decline with age and protects the brain against degeneration.

The results of a 2017 study suggest that aerobic exercise can improve memory function in people with early Alzheimer’s disease. The control group did nonaerobic stretching and toning.

Aerobic exercise increases a person’s heart rate and can include any of these activities:

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3. Meditate

meditation class
Research suggests that meditation may cause long term changes in the brain that improve memory.

Mindfulness meditation may help improve memory. The authors of a 2018 research paper note that many studies show meditation improves brain function, reduces markers of brain degeneration, and improves both working memory and long term memory.

The researchers observed the brains of people who regularly practiced meditation and those who did not.

Their results indicated that making a habit of meditating may cause long term changes in the brain, including increasing brain plasticity, which helps keep it healthy.

Learn about a variety of different meditation types and how to do them in this article.

4. Get enough sleep

Sleep is vital for overall brain health. Disrupting the body’s natural sleep cycle can lead to cognitive impairments, as this interrupts the processes the brain uses to create memories.

Getting a full night’s rest, typically about 7–9 hours a night for an adult, helps the brain create and store long term memories.

5. Reduce sugar intake

Sugary foods can taste delicious and feel rewarding at first, but they may play a role in memory loss. Research from 2017 in animal models noted that a diet high in sugary drinks has a link to Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers also found that drinking too many sugary drinks, including fruit juice, may have a connection a lower total brain volume, which is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Avoiding extra sugar may help combat this risk. While naturally sweet foods, such as fruits, are a good addition to a healthful diet, people can avoid drinks sweetened with sugar and foods with added, processed sugars.

6. Avoid high calorie diets

Along with cutting out sources of excess sugar, reducing overall caloric intake may also help protect the brain.

Researchers note that high calorie diets can impair memory and lead to obesity. The effects on memory may be due to how high calorie diets lead to inflammation in particular parts of the brain.

While most research in this area has been with animals, a study from 2009 looked at whether restricting calories in humans could improve memory.

Female participants with an average age of 60.5 years reduced their calorie intake by 30%. The researchers found that they had a significant improvement in verbal memory scores and that the benefit was most significant in those who stuck to the diet best.

7. Increase caffeine intake

Caffeine from sources such as coffee or green tea may be helpful for the memory.

The authors of a 2014 study found that consuming caffeine after a memory test boosted how well participants’ brain stored memories long term.

People who took 200 milligrams of caffeine scored better on recall tests after 24 hours than people who did not take caffeine.

Caffeine may also boost memory in the short term. A study in Frontiers in Psychology found that young adults who took caffeine in the morning had improved short term memory.

This insight might be useful for individuals who have to take tests or recall information during a time of day when they may otherwise be tired.

8. Eat dark chocolate

Eating dark chocolate sounds like an indulgence, but it may also improve a person’s memory. The results of a 2011 study suggest that cocoa flavonoids, which are the active compounds in chocolate, help boost brain function.

People who ate dark chocolate performed better on spatial memory tests than those who did not. The researchers noted that cocoa flavonoids improved the blood flow to the brain.

With that said, it is important not to add more sugar to the diet, and so people should aim for at least 72% cacao content in dark chocolate and avoid chocolate with added sugar.

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Risk factors for memory impairment

woman using bcaas supplement running on racing track
Exercising regularly may help keep the mind sharp.

Some people may be more prone to memory impairment than others due to a range of risk factors.

There are risk factors a person has no control over, such as genetics. Some people may be more predisposed to conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, which greatly affect the brain and memory.

In other cases, a person may be able to reduce the risk of memory impairment. Eating a diet high in refined sugar and fats and leading a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk of memory loss.

Eating a rounded, healthful diet and exercising regularly may contribute to keeping the mind sharp and reduce memory loss.


Many techniques for improving memory can be beneficial for a person’s overall health and well-being. For example, practicing mindfulness meditation may not only make a person less forgetful but can also reduce stress.

Even adding one or two memory boosting practices to a person’s daily routine may help them keep their brain healthy and protect it from memory loss.

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Medical News Today: 8 natural supplements to help fight inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s response to irritation, infection, and injury. Short term inflammation protects the body, while chronic inflammation can lead to long term pain and damage, such as in arthritis.

Anti-inflammatory medications help fight pain and chronic inflammation.

However, these drugs are not safe for everyone, and extended use can lead to complications and side effects.

Some natural supplements may help fight inflammation, although not all supplements work for every type of inflammation.

In this article, we describe some of the most effective anti-inflammatory supplements that people may wish to try, depending on the cause of their inflammation.

1. Omega-3 fatty acids

A woman taking a omega 3 capsule as part of a Anti inflammatory supplements plan
Omega-3 fatty acids may help fight vascular inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fatty fish such as cod, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements.

These supplements may help fight several types of inflammation, including vascular inflammation. Vascular inflammation is a significant risk factor for heart disease and heart attack.

In one study of 250 people with pain from degenerative disc disease, 59% of the participants were able to substitute fish oil for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The right dosage varies with the potency of the supplement. Some products come in pill form, while other manufacturers sell omega-3s as an oil. When using these products, people should always follow the instructions on the packaging.

Like many prescription anti-inflammatory medications, omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil may increase the risk of bleeding. People with bleeding disorders and those taking blood thinners should not use this supplement.

Omega-3 fatty acids are available to purchase online.

2. Curcumin

Curcumin, which is an active ingredient in turmeric, is a plant in the ginger family. Animal studies have suggested that it may help reduce inflammation to speed up wound healing and even reduce cancer risk.

A 2011 study also found that curcumin may help reduce inflammation from obesity-related metabolic conditions. Curcumin altered several inflammatory pathways, reducing insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, and hyperlipidemia.

A typical dosage of curcumin is 400–600 milligrams (mg) three times daily.

Although it is safe to take curcumin with low doses of NSAIDs, higher doses may increase the risk of bleeding. Curcumin also increases the risk of bleeding in people taking blood thinners and those with bleeding disorders.

Curcumin is available to purchase online.

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3. S-adenosylmethionine

S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is a substance that the body creates naturally. It plays an important role in the epigenetic regulation of genes.

Epigenetic factors affect gene expression and behavior, turning some genes on or off and changing the effect of others.

Doctors sometimes recommend SAM-e to manage symptoms of depression, osteoarthritis, and certain liver conditions, as inflammation may play a role in each of these.

A handful of clinical trials have suggested that SAM-e may help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with various types of arthritis — sometimes as well as NSAIDs can.

The right dosage depends on the condition a person has. For example:

  • A person may take 200–800 mg twice per day for fibromyalgia.
  • A person may take 800–1,600 mg twice per day for depression.
  • A person may take 600–1,200 mg three times per day for osteoarthritis.

SAM-e may interact with a wide range of drugs, so people must not take it without first consulting a doctor.

At high doses, SAM-e may cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and nausea, so people must not exceed the recommended dose.

SAM-e supplements are available to purchase online.

4. Zinc

person holding collagen supplements
Research suggests that zinc decreases oxidative stress among older adults.

Some research suggests that zinc is a potent anti-inflammatory that may support the immune system and reduce several markers of inflammation.

According to a 2014 paper, zinc decreased inflammation and oxidative stress among older adults. Oxidative stress triggers inflammation and may increase the risk of a host of conditions, including cancer.

Zinc also reduced the rate of infections by 66%.

People with zinc deficiency are more likely to have arthritis, suggesting a link between zinc deficiency, inflammation, and pain.

The usual daily dosage of zinc supplements is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. Taking more than 40 mg per day can be dangerous.

Zinc may interact with calcium, diuretics, and certain antibiotics, so people must talk to a healthcare provider before trying this supplement.

Zinc supplements are available to purchase online.

5. Green tea

Doctors have long suspected that green tea may fight inflammation, because people who live in regions that consume more green tea have lower rates of inflammation-related illnesses.

Research suggests that green tea may inhibit the production of certain inflammatory chemicals. It may also help slow cartilage loss, reducing the symptoms of arthritis.

Most doctors recommend drinking three or four cups of green tea per day, or taking 300–400 mg of green tea extract daily.

Green tea contains caffeine, so it is not safe for those who are sensitive to caffeine. The caffeine may cause stomach problems such as diarrhea.

Some companies make decaffeinated green tea, but researchers do not yet know if this type of green tea is effective for reducing inflammation.

Green tea extract is available to purchase online.

6. Frankincense

Boswellia serrata resin, or frankincense, can ease both inflammation and pain.

It may also help reduce cartilage loss and reverse autoimmune symptoms. It is a fast acting supplement that may help with osteoarthritis pain in just 5 days.

The usual dosage is an extract containing 30–40% boswellic acids, which a person takes in 300–500 mg doses two to three times per day.

Combining frankincense with curcumin may increase its potency, and some research has found that people tolerate this combination better than the NSAID diclofenac.

Frankincense is typically safe, with few side effects. However, some people report stomach pain and gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea.

Frankincense supplements are available to purchase online.

7. Capsaicin

Capsaicin is the ingredient that gives hot peppers their heat. Substance P, a key component of capsaicin, may reduce the body’s ability to feel and transmit pain.

Some research suggests that capsaicin may help with both nerve and muscular pain.

Several manufacturers offer capsaicin creams that people can apply directly to painful areas. Capsaicin supplements may also help. Again, people taking these should follow the directions on the packaging.

Capsaicin can irritate the skin and eyes, so it is essential to wash the hands thoroughly after use.

Capsaicin supplements are available to purchase online.

8. Cat’s claw

Cat’s claw comes from various uncaria plants, including Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis.

Research suggests that cat’s claw may reduce various forms of inflammation. It is especially effective at inhibiting TNF-alpha, an inflammatory chemical in the body.

If using cat’s claw tea, a person may drink a ratio of 1,000 mg of root bark to 8 ounces of water. It is also safe to consume as a powder in capsule form, in daily dosages of 20–60 mg.

Although cat’s claw is generally safe, two case reports suggest that it may cause kidney failure in people with lupus. It may also cause nausea, though some studies suggest that it may also help stomach pain from the NSAID indomethacin.

Cat’s claw supplements are available to purchase online.

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Other options

a man looks at his prescription with a pharmacist
There is a wide range of prescription anti-inflammatory drugs available.

Anti-inflammatory supplements do not work for everyone. In almost all cases, these supplements take time to reverse inflammation.

So, people who need immediate pain relief may want to try other options, either in addition to or instead of anti-inflammatory supplements. Some options include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs: Medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin can help with inflammation-related pain. They may also reduce the swelling of a recent injury.
  • Prescription anti-inflammatory drugs: A wide range of prescription medications can help with inflammation and pain.
  • Anti-inflammatory diet: Some people focus on eating foods that reduce inflammation, while others avoid those that may trigger inflammation. Fried foods, soda, refined carbohydrates, and red meat may cause inflammation, while nuts, blueberries, strawberries, olive oil, tomatoes, and leafy green vegetables may help fight it.


Natural anti-inflammatory supplements can help the body fight pain and inflammation. They may even prevent some of the long term complications of chronic inflammation, such as cancer.

Before trying a new anti-inflammatory treatment, even a natural one, it is important to consult a doctor. Natural remedies are often potent medicine that can cause side effects and interact with other drugs.

When they work, however, they may reduce the need to take prescription or OTC medications.

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Medical News Today: Stomach burning: What to know

Burning in the stomach is a common, bothersome symptom. It often stems from indigestion, also known as dyspepsia.

A burning sensation in the stomach is usually just one symptom of an underlying condition, such as an intolerance to certain foods.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications can prevent and treat indigestion, and some home remedies can help relieve symptoms.

Anyone who regularly experiences stomach burning and similar symptoms should see a doctor. It is important to understand the underlying cause and to receive effective treatment.


A woman experiencing a burning feeling in her Stomach
A burning feeling in the stomach often stems from indigestion.

A feeling that the stomach or inner chest is fiery or very acidic can be very painful. The pain may worsen after eating or during times of stress.

People tend to feel heartburn along with burning in the stomach. Heartburn occurs when the burning sensation comes up from the stomach and into the chest.

There are a few different causes of stomach burning, including:


Indigestion is the common name for dyspepsia, which simply means an upset stomach. A one-off bout of indigestion can cause sensations such as stomach burning, along with:

  • bloating
  • rumbling in the stomach
  • gas
  • heartburn
  • feeling full
  • nausea

Infrequent indigestion is common and not necessarily a sign of an underlying condition. A person may simply have eaten too much, something too spicy, or food that was no longer good.

Functional dyspepsia

Many cases of indigestion do not have a direct cause. Doctors call this functional dyspepsia.

Functional dyspepsia can account for symptoms, including burning in the stomach, in as many as 70% of people with this type of complaint. Researchers arrived at this figure by analyzing results of a procedure called upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. This involves using a thin, flexible tool with a camera to view the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Functional dyspepsia is harmless, but symptoms can be bothersome, and a doctor will want to rule out other possible causes before making this diagnosis.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that causes frequent acid reflux. This reflux occurs when acid from the stomach moves up into the esophagus, causing burning sensations in the stomach and chest.

Other symptoms can include:

GERD can also lead to complications. For instance, stomach acid may start to wear away the esophagus, increasing the risk of conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus, which involves potentially harmful changes in the esophageal lining.

Reactions to certain foods

copd and alcohol
Alcohol can trigger GERD-like symptoms in some people.

Some people have strong reactions to certain foods, leading to GERD-like symptoms, including burning in the stomach.

Foods that commonly cause gastrointestinal problems include:

Alcohol can irritate the digestive tract, stomach, and intestines, causing stomach burning and other issues.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition, affecting approximately 12% of the United States population.

Doctors do not know the exact cause of IBS. Symptoms can include stomach burning, as well as:

IBS is a long lasting condition, though many treatments can help manage symptoms.

Peptic ulcers

Peptic ulcers are sores that wear through the lining of the stomach. Many people with peptic ulcers report that burning pain in the stomach and abdomen is the strongest symptom. These ulcers can also cause:

  • a feeling of fullness, even before eating
  • bloating
  • burping
  • heartburn
  • nausea

Many people with peptic ulcers also experience reactions to certain foods. For example, spicy foods can make their symptoms worse.

Stomach infections

Helicobacter pylori, or simply H. pylori, are bacteria that can infect the stomach.

Some people with H. pylori infections experience stomach burning, along with symptoms such as:

  • bloating
  • burping
  • a loss of appetite
  • unexpected weight loss
  • nausea


Certain medications that affect the gastrointestinal system can also cause a burning sensation in the stomach. These include many common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as:

Anyone who regularly takes NSAIDs and experiences stomach pain should talk to a doctor, who may recommend changing the dosage or medication.

Stomach cancer

In rare cases, burning in the stomach can be a symptom of stomach cancer.

Other signs of stomach cancer include:

  • fullness in the upper abdomen
  • fatigue
  • nausea and vomiting
  • unexplained weight loss
  • severe heartburn
  • anemia
  • vomiting
  • vomiting blood
  • blood in the stool

The American Cancer Society note that other, noncancerous disorders are much more likely to cause many of these symptoms.

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Diagnosis generally begins with a physical exam. A doctor will ask questions about a person’s symptoms, as well as their diet, lifestyle, and any medications they take.

The doctor may use other tools to help diagnose the underlying issue, such as ultrasounds or endoscopy.

They may also order tests, such as a breath test to check for H. pylori. Once they find the underlying cause of the burning sensation in the stomach, they can recommend treatment.


Some over-the-counter and prescription medications can ease symptoms of acid reflux and indigestion.

A person with an H. pylori infection will need antibiotics.

When a NSAID is causing the burning sensation, the doctor may recommend a change of medication.

Home remedies

Taking the following steps may help reduce and prevent a feeling of burning in the stomach:

Eliminate trigger foods

a man relaxing with a coffee and iPad
Reducing stress may help prevent a feeling of burning in the stomach.

In people with food intolerances, GERD, or less frequent acid reflux, certain foods may be triggering or worsening symptoms.

It can help to keep a food journal. Make a note of every meal and snack, and record when symptoms appear.

Common triggers include:

  • dairy
  • gluten
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • fried food
  • fatty food
  • chocolate
  • citrus
  • alliums, such as garlic, leeks, and onions
  • nightshades, such as eggplant, bell pepper, and tomatoes

Other prevention tips include:

  • reducing alcohol intake
  • finding ways to reduce stress
  • avoiding meals late at night before bed
  • eating smaller meals
  • raising the head with extra pillows at night
  • maintaining a healthy weight

When to see a doctor

A single bout of indigestion is typically not a cause for concern. However, anyone who experiences persistent symptoms — such as stomach burning that lasts for a long time or comes back throughout the day — should see a doctor.

If other concerning systems, such as unexplained weight loss, feelings of fullness, or a loss of appetite occur, consult a doctor.

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An occasional feeling of burning in the stomach does not often signal a cause for concern. It may simply result from an unsettled the stomach. Finding and eliminating problematic foods from the diet may prevent this symptom from returning.

However, this burning sensation can sometimes result from a chronic condition or a reaction to medication. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause, so anyone uncertain about the cause of the symptom should see a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

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Medical News Today: What causes numbness and tingling?

Temporary numbness and tingling can occur after spending too much time sitting cross-legged, or with a head resting on a crooked arm.

But long term, severe, or disabling numbness and tingling is usually a sign of neurological conditions or nerve damage.

This article focuses on common causes and treatments for numbness and tingling, including multiple sclerosis (MS).

Causes in different parts of the body

A woman in an office experiencing Numbness and tingling in her wrist.
Numbness and tingling may occur after resting the head on a crooked arm.

Numbness (lost, reduced, or altered sensation) and tingling (an odd prickling sensation) are types of temporary paresthesia.

These sensations commonly occur after sitting or standing in a particular position or even wearing tight clothing for too long. This puts pressure on nerves and blood vessels, reducing sensation.

Symptoms usually go away soon after the nerve pressure is reduced or relieved.

Multiple sclerosis

Numbness and tingling are two of the most common and early symptoms of MS.

MS often causes mild to severe numbness and tingling on the skin or certain parts of the body, including the:

  • arms and hands
  • legs and feet
  • face
  • body, often across the body in a band (sometimes described as an MS hug)

The numbness and tingling symptoms of MS are rarely disabling or permanent. But severe numbness can make it difficult for a person to use the numb body part, which may interfere with everyday activities.

For example, numb hands can make holding things, typing, or self-care hard or impossible. If someone has numb feet or legs, walking and driving can be dangerous. People with numbness and tingling in their face may also mistakenly bite their tongue or inner mouth.

Severe numbness can make it hard to tell when things are very hot or cold, increasing the risk of burns and frostbite.

Other conditions

Other conditions affecting the central nervous system that can cause numbness and tingling include:

  • Stroke. Sudden numbness in the arm, leg, or face, especially on one side of the body, is an early symptom of stroke.
  • Mini-strokes. Transient ischemic attacks, or mini-strokes, can cause one side of the face to go numb and droop.
  • Encephalitis. In severe cases, inflammation in the brain and spinal cord can cause a loss of sensation in parts of the body or partial paralysis in the arms or legs.
  • Transverse myelitis. Inflammation in the spinal cord can cause a band-like sensation across the torso, as well as weakness in the legs and sometimes arms.
  • Tumors. Tumors can put pressure on parts of the spinal cord and brain, resulting in numbness and tingling. Tumors in the cerebral cortex (outer region of the brain) tend to cause numbness on one side of the body. Tumors in and close to the cranial nerves tend to cause facial numbness and weakness. Tumors impacting the spinal cord can cause numbness, usually in both arms and legs.
  • Back and neck damage. Back and neck injuries can cause nerve damage or compression, resulting in numbness and tingling.
  • Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps regulate many systems in the body, including proper nerve function. Severe magnesium deficiencies, or hypomagnesemia, can cause numbness and tingling.

Some other conditions that target specific parts of the body can cause numbness and tingling. Body parts include:

Feet and legs

People with diabetes may experience diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage. It can occur over time as the metabolic effects of diabetes in the bloodstream damage nerves.

One-third to one-half of people with diabetes have peripheral neuropathy, a form that typically causes numbness and pain in the feet and legs, or less commonly, in the hands and arm.

Hands and feet

senior man taking medication
A number of medications may cause peripheral neuropathy.

Vitamin B12 deficiency, or pernicious anemia, can cause nerve damage due to low red blood cell levels and reduced oxygen circulation. This can cause peripheral neuropathy.

Alcoholic liver damage can cause peripheral neuropathy, affecting the hands and feet.

A range of medications can also cause peripheral neuropathy, such as:


Calcium is vital to proper nerve function and blood flow. Hypocalcemia, or calcium deficiency, can cause numbness and tingling in the fingers.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and fingers. It occurs when the median nerve, a major nerve in the arm, becomes compressed in the space where it travels through the wrist.


Panic attacks, or sudden overwhelming periods of fear and anxiety without real danger, can cause a range of symptoms, including numbness or tingling in the hands.


Toothaches and infections can compress facial nerves, causing numbness in the face and mouth.

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To diagnose the cause of numbness and tingling, a doctor will review a person’s medical history, do a physical examination, and ask questions about symptoms. They may then order laboratory tests, such as blood tests, to confirm or rule out potential causes.

In some cases, a doctor may request further testing, such as MRIs or other imaging tests. Electromyography and nerve conduction studies can help assess the extent and type of nerve damage, especially when neuropathy causes the tingling.


Treatment for numbness and tingling depends on its cause.


Numbness related to MS is usually relatively harmless and painless.

Niacin, a B complex vitamin, may help reduce inflammation and related numbness.

In cases of severe or painful numbness, treatment may involve a short round of corticosteroids, which also quickens recovery by reducing inflammation.

Several medications designed to treat different conditions may also help reduce numbness and tingling associated with MS, such as:

  • gabapentin
  • pregabalin
  • carbamazepine
  • phenytoin
  • amitriptyline, imipramine, and nortriptyline

Other conditions

Several different treatment plans may help reduce or manage numbness and tingling not related to MS, such as:

  • Stroke. Medications to treat clots for ischemic stroke (if within 3 hours of first symptoms), and surgery or endovascular procedures for hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Transverse myelitis. Pain medications, antivirals, intravenous immunoglobulin, or plasma exchange therapy.
  • Meningitis. Antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and corticosteroids.
  • Tumors. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other drug therapies.
  • Diabetic neuropathy. Physical activity, healthful diet, following diabetes treatment plans, checking feet daily for changes, and getting regular foot exams.
  • Carpal tunnel. Wrist braces, over-the-counter pain medications, nerve gliding exercises, or surgery. Avoiding trigger activities.
  • Pernicious anemia. Vitamin B12 injections, pills, or nose gels or sprays.
  • Hypocalcemia and hypomagnesemia. Infusions or supplements, dietary changes, staying away from triggers, treating underlying causes.


The best way to prevent numbness and tingling depends on the cause.

However, several lifestyle habits may help prevent or reduce numbness and tingling associated with MS, such as:

  • eating a low fat, high fiber diet
  • getting enough vitamin D and biotin (a B vitamin)
  • taking regular moderate exercise
  • learning strategies to cope with heat and cold
  • having a regular sleep schedule
  • limiting or avoiding alcohol and smoking
  • managing and reducing stress

Prevention strategies for conditions other than MS that can cause numbness and tingling include:

  • eating a low fat, high fiber diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • limiting salt (sodium) intake
  • maintaining a healthy body weight and body mass index (BMI)
  • getting 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity weekly
  • limiting alcohol intake and stop smoking
  • washing hands with soap and water regularly
  • avoiding sharing food or other objects with people potentially exposed to infective conditions
  • staying up-to-date with vaccinations
  • avoiding radiation exposure
  • limiting repetitive hand or wrist motions
  • eating foods rich in vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium or take supplements
  • treating back pain early and limit activities that make the pain worse
  • getting psychotherapy
  • managing stress

When to see a doctor

middle aged male patient in doctor s office
If a person experiences persistent numbness or tingling, they should speak to their doctor.

See a doctor if numbness or tingling is persistent or occurs without an obvious cause, or if they accompany any of the following symptoms :

  • fatigue
  • vision problems
  • muscle weakness and cramps
  • bladder and bowel problems
  • pain
  • intense anxiety
  • back or neck pain
  • reduced appetite

People who experience certain symptoms with numbness and tingling may need emergency medical attention. These symptoms include:

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Many conditions can cause numbness and tingling, including MS.

Usually, the severity, frequency, and location of symptoms depend on the cause.

Although some causes have no cure, many have symptoms that are temporary, painless, or respond to at home care.

Several lifestyle habits, medications, and types of therapy can help reduce or prevent symptoms.

People with unexplained numbness and tingling should talk to a doctor as early as possible. The outlook for most conditions associated with numbness and tingling improves with early treatment. For example, treating MS early can help reduce the risk of severe complications, especially disability.

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