Witch hazel is a liquid distillation of the leaves, bark and twigs of a common shrub (Hamamelis virginiana), which is native to North America. It can usually be found on drugstore shelves next to rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, yet many people aren’t familiar with it. That’s unfortunate, because it’s a safe, effective remedy for a variety of skin and muscle conditions. To treat irritated skin, douse a cotton pad with witch hazel and apply it to the area. This treatment is good for insect bites as well as sun- and windburn, and even hemorrhoids. You can also use it in the same manner to disinfect minor cuts and abrasions, and for general skin care such as cleansing, toning and refreshing the face. In addition, it can be rubbed into arms or legs to alleviate muscle soreness. Topical witch hazel has no drug interactions and may be used safely by both children and adults.
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