Bloody Leeches Everywhere!
5 quick tips for you to keep in mind when on your next hike.
We’ve been hiking quite a lot in the past, a few of them in dense leech-zone forests. Knowing that’s a big issue in hiking adventures, we’ve decided to gather a few tips on how to avoid leeches while hiking.
“To avoid leeches, you may apply salt on exposed areas, wear leech socks tightly, or even use leech deterrents such as Dettol and Siddhalepa.”
1. Apply Salt
The first trick is applying salt on your skin. Have you ever heard of snails' sensitivity to salt? Well, it works the same way on leeches. The idea is that their surface is permeable to water, so once you create an osmotic gradient, water would exit their cells and move to the salted area.
To do so, you should take a decent amount of salt and soak it with relatively little water, creating a paste. Then, apply it on your skin on exposed areas – especially on your legs, sometimes even in your socks.
Still, leeches may attach to the surface above the salt line, although there is a low chance that they will do so by climbing on the salt layer. This method is effective in preventing leeches from attacking your skin, however, using salt would also help you with removing those who have already attached.
2. Wear Leech Socks
Another way to avoid them is by using leech socks, although if you won’t wear them appropriately – they wouldn’t do any good.
First, wear thick socks and a high pair of hiking boots – they will act as another barrier against leeches. Then, pull your leech socks above your pants to the points they are close to your knees.
Finally, tighten the socks firmly so they won’t be able to penetrate from above, however, do not exaggerate and hurt your legs.
You should take into account that the trick prevents them from attacking although it doesn’t repel leeches – they can still bite the skin above the socks. Another disadvantage here is that the socks are uncomfortable and perhaps make long hikes even more difficult.
3. Use Leech Deterrents/Repellants
As the name implies, leech deterrents are meant to avoid leeches from biting your exposed skin. Nevertheless, if a leech is already attached, you may also use these to remove it more easily.
Dettol Spray This spray has been found useful in avoiding leech bites due to its strong smell. Also, this spray contains antiseptics that would decrease the chances of getting a bite infection.
Siddhalepa Again, this is useful in avoiding leech bites due to its strong smell.
4. Don’t Stop Walking
When you are taking breaks in leech areas, you make it easier for them to cling on to you.
When you are hiking consistently, your feet touch the bottom for short periods, and they get fewer opportunities to catch your feet. If you wish to take a break, always do so in exposed areas outside the water, like on a big rock or dry ground. Another thing to avoid is leaning on things while walking – when you touch wet areas for an extended period with bare hands, leeches can climb easily without you noticing it. Walking non-stop is crucial, although you shouldn’t exaggerate it either. Make sure you take enough breaks and for that, try to pick areas in which leeches aren’t likely to be found.
5. Minimize Hiking in Water
Walking in wet areas is like walking inside a convention for leeches. Whenever possible, always find dryer ground for you to keep walking on.
Getting leeches off you can be a struggle as well. Here are some tips to get them off effectively and also how to treat a leech wound:
The Right Way to Remove Leeches The right way is first to recognize the sucker part, which is usually the thicker part that is connected to your skin. When you know where the sucker is, you should get your fingernails underneath it – between the sucker and your skin surface. To do so, compress the area around the bite with one hand, and slide your nails under the leech with the other to remove it quickly.
How to Treat Leech Wounds After you got the leech off, your skin would probably be bleeding – that is due to an anticoagulant peptide called hirudin. Don’t be scared – it will go off your system in a while, so in the meantime focus on keeping the wound clean. Use alcohol or any other cleansing solution found on your first aid kit and bandage the wound properly. If you plan further hiking, you should treat the would like any other by keeping it clean as much as possible.