The informant was born in Ventura, CA but her father is from Mexico City and her mother is from Guadalajara. She is bilingual in Spanish and English and partakes in many of the Mexican customs.
“We use rubbing alcohol all the time in my family. When you have a fever, it helps when you soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and you put it in your belly button. Haha, I don’t know why your belly button. But also you grab a wet towel saturated with rubbing alcohol and put it on your forehead. Also on your feet too. I think since it kind of has a cooling effect, it’s helpful. When you’re nauseous it helps when you smell it. My mom uses it all the time. She always has packets of those rubbing alcohol pads and smells them when she is feeling queasy.”
The informant learned all of these tricks from her mother who insisted that she use rubbing alcohol whenever she was sick. She is my roommate and I see her using rubbing alcohol all the time when she is sick with a cold or something. She believes that it is helpful and says that you can’t just use a damp towel, it has to be rubbing alcohol.
While I’ve never heard of these methods, I can understand why rubbing alcohol would seem beneficial. It does have a cooling effect, and it’s scent probably works like Vicks in a way to open up your airways. While I probably won’t use this method anytime soon, since rubbing alcohol seems harsh on the skin, it seems to work for the informant and her family.