Leeches, and especially those found in the wild, are nasty little creatures and unless you know how to remove a leech safely, you can risk some serious infection.
These creatures are gross and a lot of people freak out when they have one attached to their skin.
Whether it’s big one or a small one, their all generally the same and you have to know how to remove a leech quickly and efficiently to ensure your risk of infection is kept to the minimum.
Firstly, take precautions to stop the leech ever latching onto you – this means ensure you have good clothing protection and good footwear.
NEVER and I mean NEVER go bear footed in the wilderness – forget what you see on the TV shows – not only are you putting yourself at such high risk of injuries of cuts from sharp objects on the forest floor, but also bites, stings and things that will latch onto your skin and cause you problems.
With that number 1 priority rule firmly in place I always use an insect replant.
This will, at least give you some level of defence against ALL the bugs that want to jump on you and use you as a meal. Most commonly used in the jungle by US Forces is the Repel 100 Insect Repellent Pump Spray – this contains almost 100% Deet which will repel mosquitoes, ticks and other nasties and is definitely not liked by leeches.
What NOT TO DO:
Do not try to burn the leech off or do not put salt on it – these are two commonly suggested methods and both will cause the leech to vomit and regurgitate the contents of its stomach into your bloodstream.
How to remove a leech from you skin.
There is more than one method to do this:
- If attached by both ends – Push down on your skin beside the THIN END of the leech, then gently slideyour fingernail under the sucker - this will be effective enough to release the suction at the thin end – then, very quickly do the same action to the THICK END before it can reattach at the other end. Then just flick it off your skin.
- If attached by THICK END only – grab the end and give it a slight pull and twist, all at the same time. This twisting action will have the same effect as sliding your fingernail under the sucker and will release the feeding end – again, just flick it away.
What to do next.
At this point the ‘wound’ will bleed profusely, which is normal, as a leech will release an anticoagulant to stop any blood clotting and thus give them a nice free flowing meal of your blood. It is also very possible the ‘wound’ is now infected.
A simple bit of basic first is all that’s needed to finish the job now:
Knowing how to remove a leech should be common knowledge for everyone involved in any hiking or camping trip.