|Steve's Notes: Some plants can be used to disinfect small wounds. Sap from the blisters on Balsam Fir trees is a natural antiseptic dressing, for example. Just pop the blisters and smear the sap over the cut or other wound. Another plant you can use is St. Johnswort. I once applied a few mashed up leaves to a nasty gash on my foot, replacing it occasionally, and I was amazed as it healed in a couple days with no scar. It is known to be anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal.|
Although boils, fungal infections, and rashes rarely develop into a serious health problem, they cause discomfort and you should treat them.
Apply warm compresses to bring the boil to a head. Then open the boil using a sterile knife, wire, needle, or similar item. Thoroughly clean out the pus using soap and water. Cover the boil site, checking it periodically to ensure no further infection develops.
Keep the skin clean and dry, and expose the infected area to as much sunlight as possible. Do not scratch the affected area. During the Southeast Asian conflict, soldiers used antifungal powders, lye soap, chlorine bleach, alcohol, vinegar, concentrated salt water, and iodine to treat fungal infections with varying degrees of success. As with any "unorthodox" method of treatment, use it with caution.
To treat a skin rash effectively, first determine what is causing it. This determination may be difficult even in the best of situations. Observe the following rules to treat rashes:
If it is moist, keep it dry.
If it is dry, keep it moist.
Do not scratch it.
Use a compress of vinegar or tannic acid derived from tea or from boiling acorns or the bark of a hardwood tree to dry weeping rashes. Keep dry rashes moist by rubbing a small amount of rendered animal fat or grease on the affected area.
|Steve's Notes: The juice from crushed jewelweed plants can sooth a rash. I have even seen it clear up a poison ivy rash overnight.|
Remember, treat rashes as open wounds and clean and dress them daily. There are many substances available to survivors in the wild or in captivity for use as antiseptics to treat wound:
Iodine tablets. Use 5 to 15 tablets in a liter of water to produce a good rinse for wounds during healing.
Garlic. Rub it on a wound or boil it to extract the oils and use the water to rinse the affected area.
Salt water. Use 2 to 3 tablespoons per liter of water to kill bacteria.
Bee honey. Use it straight or dissolved in water.
Sphagnum moss. Found in boggy areas worldwide, it is a natural
source of iodine. Use as a dressing.
Again, use noncommercially prepared materials with caution.
See the page on Frostbite.
This condition results from many hours or days of exposure to wet or damp conditions at a temperature just above freezing. The nerves and muscles sustain the main damage, but gangrene can occur. In extreme cases the flesh dies and it may become necessary to have the foot or leg amputated. The best prevention is to keep your feet dry. Carry extra socks with you in a waterproof packet. Dry wet socks against your body. Wash your feet daily and put on dry socks.
The following field treatment for burns relieves the pain somewhat, seems to help speed healing, and offers some protection against infection:
First, stop the burning process. Put out the fire by removing
clothing, dousing with water or sand, or by rolling on the ground.
Cool the burning skin with ice or water. For burns caused by
white phosphorous, pick out the white phosphorous with tweezers;
do not douse with water.
Soak dressings or clean rags for 10 minutes in a boiling tannic acid solution (obtained from tea, inner bark of hardwood trees, or acorns boiled in water).
Cool the dressings or clean rags and apply over burns.
Treat as an open wound.
Replace fluid loss.
Treat for shock.
Consider using morphine, unless the burns are near the face.
|Steve's Notes: If you are in the desert southwest, you may be able to find aloe plants. The juice from their leaves has been known to help heal burns for a long time.|
Heatstroke, hypothermia, diarrhea, and intestinal parasites are environmental injuries you could face.
The breakdown of the bodys heat regulatory system (body temperature more than 40.5 degrees C [105 degrees F]) causes a heatstroke. Other heat injuries, such as cramps or dehydration, do not always precede a heatstroke. Signs and symptoms of heatstroke are -
Swollen, beet-red face.
Reddened whites of eyes.
Victim not sweating.
Unconsciousness or delirium, which can cause pallor, a bluish color to lips and nail beds (cyanosis), and cool skin.
Note: By this time the victim is in severe shock. Cool the victim as rapidly as possible. Cool him by dipping him in a cool stream. If one is not available, douse the victim with urine, water, or at the very least, apply cool wet com-presses to all the joints, especially the neck, armpits, and crotch. Be sure to wet the victims head. Heat loss through the scalp is great. Administer IVs and provide drinking fluids. You may fan the individual. Expect, during cooling -
Rebound heatstroke within 48 hours.
Cardiac arrest; be ready to perform CPR.
Note: Treat for dehydration with lightly salted water.
See the page on Hypothermia.
A common, debilitating ailment caused by a change of water and food, drinking contaminated water, eating spoiled food, becoming fatigued, and using dirty dishes. You can avoid most of these causes by practicing preventive medicine. If you get diarrhea, however, and do not have antidiarrheal medicine, one of the following treatments may be effective:
Limit your intake of fluids for 24 hours.
Drink one cup of a strong tea solution every 2 hours until the diarrhea slows or stops. The tannic acid in the tea helps to control the diarrhea. Boil the inner bark of a hardwood tree for 2 hours or more to release the tannic acid.
Make a solution of one handful of ground chalk, charcoal, or dried bones and treated water. If you have some apple pomace or the rinds of citrus fruit, add an equal portion to the mixture to make it more effective. Take 2 tablespoons of the solution every 2 hours until the diarrhea slows or stops.
You can usually avoid worm infestations and other intestinal parasites if you take preventive measures. For example, never go barefoot. The most effective way to prevent intestinal parasites is to avoid uncooked meat and raw vegetables contaminated by raw sewage or human waste used as a fertilizer. However, should you become infested and lack proper medicine, you can use home remedies. Keep in mind that these home remedies work on the principle of changing the environment of the gastrointestinal tract. The following are home remedies you could use:
Salt water. Dissolve 4 tablespoons of salt in 1 liter of water and drink. Do not repeat this treatment.
Tobacco. Eat 1 to 1.5 cigarettes. The nicotine in the cigarette will kill or stun the worms long enough for your system to pass them. If the infestation is severe, repeat the treatment in 24 to 48 hours, but no sooner.
Kerosene. Drink 2 tablespoons of kerosene but no more. If necessary, you can repeat this treatment in 24 to 48 hours. Be careful not to inhale the fumes. They may cause lung irritation. (Note: This has gone out of favor, and should be used only as a risky last resort.)
Hot peppers. Peppers are effective only if they are a steady part of your diet. You can eat them raw or put them in soups or rice and meat dishes. They create an environment that is prohibitive to parasitic attachment.
Use the link here to return to the topic list and links for the Wilderness Survival Guide.