Medical Workers Share Their Patients' Worst 'Home Remedies' That Backfired Horribly

List Rules
Vote up the worst cases of home remedies gone wrong.

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but an extra checkup never hurts. Unfortunately for these poor patients, they tried to heal their afflictions themselves instead of heading straight for a professional, and the results were... let's say less than satisfactory. Vote up the worst cases of so-called "home remedies" backfiring, as shared by doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other medical professionals. 

And if you're looking for more horror stories from the medical field, be sure to also check out doctors' wildest stories about childbirth, times patients faked their illnesses, and the worst things they've seen that other doctors missed.


  • 1
    2,127 VOTES

    That's Not Medicine, That's Dinner

    From Redditor u/DR-JOHN-SNOW-:

    I had a patient come in with an oblique fracture on his ulna. He took off the bandaging and what was underneath was putrid.

    He had fractured his arm three weeks before he came in.

    He had been tying hot chapatis (thick flat breads) covered in turmeric, ghee (clarified butter), chilies, and ginger on the arm for the last three weeks and was washing his arm in yogurt.

    He had swelling from the fracture; second-degree burns from chapatis; necrosis of the burn tissue; a fungal infection from the heat, moisture, and random assortment of food; and cellulitis with lots of pus. In addition his entire arm was stained yellow by the turmeric.

    He spent 10 days in hospital on IV antibiotics for the infection and had to have his ulna set with screws and a plate. His surgery was massively complicated by the fact the fracture had already began to set incorrectly and had to be rebroken and his ulna broken in another area to straighten out the mess and set it correctly.

    Had he just come in when he had broken it, I am 99% sure we would have just been able to set it and popped on a cast for four to six weeks.

    2,127 votes
  • 2
    1,833 VOTES

    Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

    From Redditor u/amaezingjew:

    Not a doctor, but [I] work for one. A patient believed she had intestinal parasites and read that drinking paint thinner would help. This made the lining of her intestines start to slough off and come out in her excrement. She saw the white stuff in her poop and thought it was proof that she had parasites and this treatment was working.

    I really cannot overstate how normal this woman seemed before all this. If a co-worker had told me this story and asked me to guess which patient this was, never in a million years would I have guessed it was her. Everyone was shocked - including the therapist on staff who saw her twice monthly.

    The doctor had to send her a message over the portal begging her to stop because she was killing herself... Thankfully, the epithelium (the lining of the intestine) is the most regenerative part of your body. It repairs itself every five to seven days. The worry there is damaging the intestines themselves while the epithelium is damaged or missing.

    1,833 votes
  • 3
    2,086 VOTES

    Vitamin Don't

    From Redditor u/OscarDivine:

    Eye doctor here... I had a patient come in with blurred vision and I start examining him. Mid-20s guy, whole life ahead of him. I can't get his vision better in any way I try, so I start looking at his eyes and... retinas. Something is severely damaged: He has two burn holes in his retinas. "Have you been sun-gazing?"

    Apparently, he read somewhere that vitamin D was good for resisting COVID... so he thought he would "collect" as much sunlight as he could with his eyes [sunlight exposure promotes natural synthesis of vitamin D]. He has solar retinopathy now and permanently reduced vision with no chance at improvement after burning holes in his maculas.

    2,086 votes
  • 4
    1,656 VOTES

    Hit The Brakes

    From Redditor u/sassycomeback:

    RN, not MD. Guy limped into ED [emergency department] complaining of sores on his feet. As he's taking off his socks, he's telling his story: He had athlete's foot, and he'd tried all the OTC remedies without success. So the next logical step for him was to spray his feet with industrial brake cleaner. Something about how he used it at work sometimes to clean the grease off his hands, so why not try it on his athlete's foot? 

    At this point, he pulls his socks off, along with a good-ish amount of foot skin; the chief component of the brake cleaner he was using was hydrofluoric acid. Which will burn through your skin... and keep going... and going... and going. Friend didn't know this, so he'd naturally followed it up with rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide when he got home. Then just threw on a new pair of socks and went about his daily biz. For six days. Then he came to our ER with his feet falling off. Wild thing was, he didn't seem too bothered about it. Said it hurt, but not too bad.

    Anyhow, we wrapped those f*ckers in calcium-impregnated gauze and sent him off to the local level 1 with a burn unit. I wonder what happened to that guy.

    1,656 votes
  • 5
    2,216 VOTES

    Bleach And Baking Soda Smile

    From Redditor u/hctive:

    Tooth whitening with [a] bleach/baking soda mix. Repeatedly. Teeth were white. And chalky. And you could crumble them with fingers.

    2,216 votes
  • 6
    1,368 VOTES

    Feeling Sluggish

    From Redditor u/Maximum-Ad-7282:

    Eating live slugs for stomach ulcers. This was... a "grandmother's recipe" in his village. Poor man came to the ER with severe upper gastrointestinal bleeding and received proper medication.

    1,368 votes