Tag: First Aid

How to Relieve the Sting of a Texas Bull Nettle

Texas Bull Nettle

Texas Bull Nettle | Photo by Neil Sperry

A brush with a nettle of any species is something to avoid but the Texas bull nettle (Cnidoscolus texanus) is particularly nasty. My East Texas offers some tips for dealing with with bull nettle if you ever get stung.

While there are several theories for relief floating around, most folks will recommend urinating on it! Urine contains something that reacts chemically and soothes the pain instantly on contact. Urinating on yourself, or perhaps your buddy, might seem a bit unorthodox and disgusting, but when you wade off into a bull nettle, you’ll be ready to try just about anything.

The article goes on to suggest a paste made of baking soda as an effective and more pleasant neutralizer for the bull nettle’s sting. Baking soda works by neutralizing the high pH of the folic acid in the bull nettle’s sting. Baking soda is also a great treatment for insect stings so it makes sense to keep a small amount in your first aid kit.

You might also look for jewelweed, said to grow in the vicinity of many nettles. Jewelweed is popular folk remedy for bullnettle, poison oak, poison ivy and stinging nettle (urtica dioica) which delivers histamine into the skin of its victim.

[Via My East Texas]

How to Avoid Blood-Sucking Vermin (Ticks, Not Lawyers)

If you hike then sooner or later you will have to deal with ticks. These cunning relatives of the spider wait on the ends of leaves and grasses for an unsuspecting mammal to brush past and then climb aboard for a free lunch.

Alicia MacKleay provides a comprehensive guide to dealing with ticks on and off the trail, including ways to tick-proof your clothing.

There are also a number of natural tick repellents you might try, although the most promising, nootkatone, won’t be commercially available for a few years.

A careful tick-survey of your clothing and body is your best bet after each hike. Otherwise you could wind up bringing them into your house where they can sneak-attack your family and friends.

I’ve never had a tick on myself, but my dogs and my sister have. Folklore states that the best way to remove a tick is to encourage it to leave voluntarily, either smothering it with oil or burning it with a match. Both these methods, it turns out, are terrible. They don’t work and they can cause the critter to “barf” its stomach contents into your bloodstream. Ick.

We also were once instructed to remove a tick by twisting it in a counterclockwise direction. It worked like magic. Or was that clockwise?

Twisting might work but it also might leave the tick’s head embedded in the skin where it can fester. The recommended way to remove a tick is to grab it very close to the skin and pull straight back. See Bug Girl’s suggestions for the correct approach to removing a tick. It’s a good idea to carry tweezers or a tick remover every time you hit the trail.

Image By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Beyond First Aid: The Ultimate Emergency Manual

Here’s an excellent, free downloadable first aid resource designed for ships at sea where there is no doctor present. As expected, it is mostly aimed toward the seafarer, but much of the advice could be used in any type of expedition.

Fishermen are particularly prone to infections of the hands
and fingers because of their working environment and the
things that they are required to handle during their work.
For instance, they may be injured by fish spines and bones, by
broken ends of warps and many other things. Minor cuts and
grazes often go unnoticed at the time of injury. Bacteria are
carried into these wounds from fish slime and guts and also
from pieces of metal etc. Infection then develops with
inflammation of the infected area and the formation of pus.
Prevention is always better than cure and it is
recommended that Chlorhexidine Gluconate 20%
(HIBISCRUB) is used to wash hands and forearms after
handling fish of any kind. The Hibiscrub can be used as a soap
or in solution.

The Ship Captain’s Medical Guide via Lifehacker