About infections in the wild
Boils, fungal infections, and rashes typically do not pose serious health problems unless poor hygiene results in a secondary infection. They cause discomfort though and may be treated to reduce discomfort and accelerate healing time.
Treating Boils in the wild
A boil is a localized infection in the skin. Over time, it will become firm and hard with a soft center filled with pus (white blood cells, proteins, and bacteria). Eventually, it will form a “head” that can be opened to drain the boil.
Apply warm compresses to the boil to draw antibodies and white blood cells to the infected area in order to bring the boil to a head. Another method that can be used to bring a boil to a head is to use suction. Use an empty bottle that has been heated by boiling in water. Place the opening of the bottle over the boil and seal the skin forming an airtight environment that will create a vacuum and draw the pus to the skin’s surface. Then open the boil using a sterile knife, wire, needle, or similar item. Thoroughly clean out the pus using soap and water while looking for additional pockets of pus. Cover the boil site, checking it periodically to ensure no further infection develops.
Note that sometimes a boil can be indicative of an insect or spider bite. Be alert for any additional symptoms, otherwise it may be better to undergo testing.
Treating fungal Infections in the wild
Keep the skin clean and dry and expose the infected area to as much sunlight as possible. Do not scratch the affected area. Consider the use of antifungal powders, lye soap, chlorine bleach, alcohol, vinegar, concentrated salt water, or iodine to treat fungal infections. As with any “unorthodox” method of treatment, use these with caution.
Treating rashes in the wild
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.
Finding Antiseptics in the Wild
Remember, treat rashes as open wounds; clean and dress them daily. There are many substances available to survivors in the wild or in captivity for use as antiseptics to treat wounds. Follow the recommended guidance below:
- 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.
- Saltwater. 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.
- Sugar. Place directly on the wound and remove thoroughly when it turns into a glazed and runny substance. Then reapply.
- Syrup. In extreme circumstances, some of the same benefits of honey and sugar can be realized with any high-sugar-content item.
- Other antiseptics include lemon, honey, pineapple, grapefruit seed extract, lavender, eucalyptus, alcohol, boric acid, and Iodine.
NOTE: Again, use non-commercially prepared materials with caution.
Treating Burns in the wild
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 the victim with water or sand, or by rolling on the ground. Cool the burning skin with cool 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, the inner bark of hardwood trees, or acorns boiled in water).
- Cool the dressings or clean rags and apply them over burns for short periods of time. Sugar and honey also work for burns with honey being especially effective at promoting new skin growth and stopping infections. Use both as you would in an open wound above.
- Treat it as an open wound.
- Replace fluid loss. Fluid replacement can be achieved through oral (preferred) and intravenous routes (when resources are available). One alternate method through which rehydration can be achieved is through the rectal route. Fluids do not need to be sterile, only purified. A person can effectively absorb approximately 1 to 1.5 liters per hour by using a tube to deliver fluids into the rectal vault.
- Maintain airway.
- Treat for shock.
- Consider using morphine, unless the burns are near the face.