Survival Skill 5: How to Survive Leeches
A touch of mountain monsoons is refreshing. But trekking during monsoon has some downsides too. For example, leeches. A leech annoys the host but it is not dangerous unless it bites into eyeballs, internal organs, and / or nose.
5-Step Action of Leech
Leech sticks to the skin, injects anesthetic and anticoagulant substances, sucks blood, becomes heavy, and falls. It generally takes about twenty minutes to complete these five actions. It leaves you bleeding because it releases hirudin that prevents clotting.
Because of the anesthetic substance, you will not feel the leech bite and may lose lots of blood loss that could be dangerous.
Dos and Don’ts
- Do not use burning beedis or cigarettes to remove leech. If you do this, leech may vomit infection-causing bacteria from its gut into the bite area on your skin. It may burn your skin as well.
- Do not pull the leech. Pulling may tear your skin. Bite of leech may remain in the skin.
- Use your fingernails to push the narrow head of the leech sideways and remove it from the skin.
- Apply vinegar, salt water, or salt to remove the leech.
- After removing the leech, clean the wound with soap and water, Detol, Savlon, or any other antiseptic and dress it.
- Apply cold compresses to treat swelling and pain.
- If the wound is bleeding, apply constant pressure.
Prevention is better than cure. Is it not? To avoid leeches, take the following steps:
- Tuck your trousers in your boots so that leeches may not crawl on your body.
- Watch for leeches crawling on your body. Before they spring into action, brush them off. You may meet leeches in moist swampy places and during monsoon treks in the Himalayas.
- Do not go into water, especially in the hometowns of leeches.
- Do not swallow leeches accidently to avoid bowel irritations.
- Be careful while relieving yourself in leech prone areas.
- Soak tobacco leaves overnight and spray that water on your shoes and socks to keep leeches at bay. The water may smell.