If you’re hiking in a forest or where leeches are located, it’s essential to prepare to avoid sponges while hiking. The blood-sucking suckers can ruin a good hike. Here are some helpful tips to avoid leeches while hiking and what to do if one has already bonded to your feet, legs, or any other area of skin. The first thing to do is making sure you’ve never encountered any of these minor bugs on your skin after rainy hiking or walking through the water.
How to avoid leeches while hiking?
I’ve often walked trails in the rainforest during the last few years, including a few of them within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The views are spectacular, and I highly suggest visiting at some point. The sponges that I saw were not enjoyable. In fact, even in a desert-like country like Israel, I’ve had some occasions when leeches came onto my feet as I was hiking close to water sources. Since this is a massive problem in outdoor adventures, I’ve decided to give you some tips to avoid leeches while hiking.
Read more: How to avoid ticks while hiking
Know where leeches live
Some hikers do not are likely to come across leeches. While these gruesome creatures are everywhere, however, you’re unlikely to find them in desert areas. They’re located in the regions that are humid and damp, such as streams, rainforests, and other freshwater bodies. There are several hotspots for hiking enthusiasts: leeches in the Amazon rain forest of South America and the rain forests of Southeast Asia.
The easiest option is applying salt to your skin. Have you heard of snails’ sensitivity to salt? It works similarly to leeches. The concept is that their surfaces are permeable to water. Therefore, when you have created an osmotic gradient, the water will exit their cells and then move to the salted zone. To achieve this, you need to get an adequate dose of salt.
Then, soak it in only a tiny amount of water, making an oil. Apply it to the skin in areas of exposed including your legs, maybe within your socks. Leeches can still adhere to the skin just above the salt line; however, there is a slim likelihood that they’ll be able to do this by climbing onto this layer. This method works well in stopping leeches from causing damage to your skin, but using salt will also help remove barnacles that have already bonded.
Wear leech socks
If you’re taking an excursion in an area where you are leeched, you have to wear socks that are a sponge. It’s not a matter of choice that you wear these socks. Sponges were able to get into the fabric of regular socks, and that’s why it’s crucial to ensure that you wear socks that repel leeches. They’re literally the only socks that can repel leeches because they are constructed from a very tightly woven fabric that the squirmy minor bugs cannot get through. Learn what to wear when hiking.
Wear two pairs of socks & avoid sandals
You may have had an unpleasant experience regarding this issue – perhaps you even caught a bite using two socks. I understand that wearing 2 pairs of socks will reduce the risk of leeches bite; however, you must safely use them. To do this, make sure you put on a lightweight pair of shoes first. It is made of synthetic material, and then the shoes should be tightened. Then, put on an additional heavy cotton pair, and it’s your primary protection against leeches. If you’re wearing two pairs of shoes, but you still have an opportunity that an insect can bite through it.
Use leech deterrents
As the name suggests, leech repellents are designed to prevent leeches from attacking your skin. However, if you have a sponge already in your skin, you can use these devices to get rid of it much more quickly. Here are some of the most popular ones, but you should be cautious about applying them frequently during your hike since water could behead them over time. When you’ve cleaned your bathroom, couch or sleeping mattress, or even door handles, there’s the chance that you’ve come across Dettol. It was first utilized in World War II by the Japanese. The spray is now used in preventing bites from sponges due to its strong scent. It also contains antiseptics which can reduce the chance of contracting bite-related infections.
Deet spray your lower body
If you cannot get the chance to purchase an appropriate pair of leech socks, you could make a type of sponge repellent socks by using your regular trekking socks. Spray them with DEET. In truth, these things freak me so severely that I recommend spraying DEET on your shoes, socks, and pants legs even if you wear leech socks that are on your foot.
I’ve yet to find any evidence-based reasons to support this, but on my hikes, I’ve noticed more minor leech bites in areas with sunscreen protection. Perhaps it was because of the oily component of the scent. There’s no doubt that the lotion contributed to repelling those annoying bugs. If you’re me – there’s no harm trying it out even if it hasn’t performed, you still gained your sun protection.
Keep your shirt tucked into your pants
Leeches are everywhere in the body and are warm; therefore, if they manage to get under your shirt, they’ll move to your armpits or wherever else it will be warm and comfortable. If you keep your shirt tucked in your pants, you make it harder for users to use it as an entry point.
Don’t lean on anything
The long treks can be tiring, and, trust me, I fully understand. Sometimes, you need to break or perhaps lean against an old tree or a massive rock. Absolutely do avoid this when residing in the forest or somewhere in the world where leeches thrive. You’re just asking some of them to take your body as their new home. Tiger leeches usually live found on the leaves of trees and, when they bite, they may cause a little pain. Brown sponges can be found on the forest floor, and you’ll likely not be aware of their bites until you discover one that is securely in the skin. If you have to rest for a while and rest, look for an area that is in direct sunlight. They don’t like hot, dry places, and it’s safer to stop to rest.
Tuck in your shirt
The thing I like about hiking and camping is that even the tiniest of details are the ones that make the most significant impact. If you’ve ever had bites on your stomach or legs, there’s an excellent chance that the leeches came in from the space above your pants. Remember that when sponges come after you, they attack by climbing onto your skin. It is much less likely they’ve made it to the top. If you’re walking, particularly in deep water or rainforests, be sure to tuck your pants into your shirt and then secure it using an appropriate belt. But, you shouldn’t overdo it; leave plenty of room for breathing comfortably.
Make a tobacco spray
Many hikers talk about purchasing a small tobacco leaf at a local store, no matter where they’re getting ready for their hike. What you’re supposed to do is to soak the leaves in water for the night. Then, you’ll need to take that tobacco water and place it in an aerosol bottle. Similar to DEET, The purpose of this spray is to spray your shoes, socks, or legs with this spray. It will, indeed, make your breath smell as if you were smoking tobacco. What you should be aware of is that it doesn’t dissuade a leech. Instead, they slow down and also sort of intoxicates them. Or causes them to become high, and they eventually fall off your body – usually before they bite.
Be careful going to the bathroom
The most significant risk you could be through the rainforest is when you have to get rid of yourself. Leeches view this as the ideal time to sneak between your buttocks or even into your sexual organs. It is best to take a bathroom break in the sunshine since there’s less chance of sponges living in the vicinity. Also, ensure that you’re vigilant and make sure you check for any sneezes before you pull your pants up again.
What to do If a leech bite you
Even if you follow all the steps in the above paragraph you will be able to avoid leeches while hiking. But if by any chance leech bite you then follow the following procedure.
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Don’t pull the leech off your skin if it’s attached
If you attempt to remove it off while the leech is already sucking up your blood, you risk leaving the mouth part of the sponge on the skin. The mouthpieces will remain beneath your skin and will require a few days to be healed.
Sprinkle It with salt
As mentioned previously as previously mentioned, salt is the most basic form of leeches’ kryptonite. If you’ve got one in your mouth and are bites you, just sprinkle salt over it. As you’ll observe, the salt causes the sponge to release your skin and start to pull to get away.
Touch it with a lighter
This isn’t a way to kill the leech by this method. The goal is to get it to a temperature that it will want to run away from the bite area. As sponges aren’t fond of hot temperatures, this is an excellent method to convince them to release your body and let go. But, it’s not the most humane way to go about it. If you don’t have salt or DEET, or alcohol, you can use it in the case of a need.
Prepare for the bleeding
If the sponge is removed from the bite site, you will likely suffer from a lot of bleeding. If an insect bites you, it releases an anticoagulant which will cause your blood not to clot. This is an interesting scientific fact about leeches. It is also a sign of blood flowing out of your wound for a while. It’s best to prepare by using gauze, tape, or an abrasive bandage.
Apply an antiseptic to the bite
After you’ve gotten the tiny bugger removed from your body and finally managed to get the bleeding to end, you must treat the wound. The most effective way to take care of this is to apply an antiseptic over the bite site. It is essential to continue the regular application of this on the area until the wound heals completely.
Based on the area you go for your hiking, you could not encounter any leeches. However, if you do the leeches will bite you. Remember, even though these animals are usually less dangerous than annoying. Still, they could be life-threatening for people who are allergic to the peptides they release while bites. Follow our tips to avoid leeches while hiking and protect yourself!