8 Ways to Use Your T-Shirt to Treat Injuries
If you can’t get professional medical help right away, you can still stop a bad bleed, prevent wound infection or treat heat exhaustion – all with a simple T-shirt.
1. Use Your T-Shirt for a Pressure Dressing
Applying pressure will usually stop bleeding – a clean T-shirt comes in handy for this. Place the shirt between your hand and the wound to help protect yourself and the bleeder from each other’s germs.
Here’s the best trick: If the bleeding stops with pressure but starts back when you release it, you can make a pressure dressing so you don’t have to keep holding the T-shirt on the wound. Just tape the shirt down firmly onto the wound and continue pressing the shirt’s bulk onto the injured area.
2. Use Your T-Shirt for a Tourniquet
If a leg, arm, hand, or foot doesn’t stop bleeding even with pressure, it’s time for a tourniquet. While no makeshift solution works as well as a commercial one, a T-shirt can work if it’s an emergency.
Tear a strip that’s five inches wide and two to three feet long. Fold it until it’s about two inches wide. Wrap it above the wound, and tighten until the bleeding stops. Remember: you can’t keep a tourniquet on too long without causing severe tissue damage, so get expert help as soon as possible.
3. Use Your T-Shirt for a Wound Dressing
To help prevent infection, you need to dress most wounds. To use a T-shirt for this, find the cleanest one you can. If it’s not clean, consider boiling it in water for a few minutes and then letting it cool. Tear the T-shirt into strips wide enough to cover the wound, and fold them.
You can also wad the shirt up into a dressing. Clean the wound, especially if you won’t be able to get help for more than a couple of hours. Apply antibacterial ointment if you have it. Then tape your dressing over the wound. Look for signs of decreased circulation like cold, blue or numb toes or fingers.
4. Use Your T-Shirt for a Body Cooler
You can also use a T-shirt to help prevent heat exhaustion. Wet the shirt and put it back on or wrap it around your neck – your body will cool down as the water evaporates.
Possible signs of heat exhaustion include extreme fatigue, confusion and severe headaches. If you start experiencing those symptoms, immediately stop what you’re doing, drink liquids and find shade where you can rest.
5. Use Your T-Shirt for a Compression Wrap
If you’ve ever had a sprain before, you’ll know R.I.C.E. – rest, ice, compression and elevation. A regular T-shirt can be used for compression. Simply wrap it around the sprain as you would an elastic bandage. Don’t wrap it too tight and watch for increased swelling. Also look out for decreased circulation signs.
6. Use Your T-Shirt for a Splint
A T-shirt can help make an effective temporary splint for a broken bone. Start by wrapping strips of the shirt around the injury. Take a stick and place it against the injury to keep the fractured area stable.
For a broken arm or leg, the stick should extend above and below the joints at each end of the injured bone. Using strips of the T-shirt, wrap the stick firmly in place. Watch for circulation issues and swelling.
7. Use Your T-Shirt for a Sprain Stabilizer
If you sprain a joint, decrease your movements immediately. This is where your T-shirt comes into play. Tear the T-shirt into strips and wrap the joint as you would an elastic bandage. Remember not to wrap too tight since sprains can swell quite a bit.
8. Use Your T-Shirt for an Eye Patch
Simply fold a piece of a clean T-shirt and tape it in place. Make sure it’s thick enough to keep your eye shut. If you don’t have tape, rip up a separate long strip of the shirt to tie around your head and keep the eye patch in place.