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Experience in prevention and handling when bitten by leeches during trips through the forest.

On rainy days and humid air are the most favorable conditions for the vigorous growth of bloodthirsty leeches. This animal has become the obsession of many trekkers because of its "speech of lightning”. Follow Tropical Trekking to learn about how to handle leech bite in the forest. 

Understanding leeches

Leeches are shaped like worms, they are about 2-5cm long, have cupping at the head and tail. One bite of their blood can save hunger for up to 6 months. Leeches also have their own habits, they like to live in tropical forests, or have humid areas with temperatures around 24-28 degrees Celsius.

Leeches often invite each other to hunt at 5-8 am and 17-19 pm. Especially after the rains, the weather and the ground are wetter is the time when the extractor is most active. Besides, they often nest in places out of sight such as tree holes, sunken holes, … to stalk their prey.

How to prevent leech bite

Because of their poor cold tolerance, places with high temperature and warmth on the body such as armpits, groin, thighs, neck, ... are the places they like best. Once they have identified the target of their prey, they attack decisively, cling firmly to the body and eat to their fullest. When sucking blood, leeches will secrete a substance called hirudin, this compound works to prevent blood from clotting, so that they can perform bloodsucking more easily.

Leeches are quite soft, so it is difficult for us to recognize. If the wound is not treated in time, it is difficult for the bite to stop bleeding and is susceptible to infection.

The types of leeches you easily encounter in the forest of Vietnam

  • Black leeches: They specialize in working underground or under layers of decaying leaves. This guy usually only clings from the knee down.
  • Green leeches: They are often active on the leaves of trees, and they move and approach by flicking. (A potential long jumper of the Olympic Games)
  • Rough black leech: This guy is often found in the central region of Vietnam, most often in the area of Bach Ma National Park. Unlike other types, rough black leeches possess a muscular body, bite very deeply and cause long-term itching.
  • Yellow leech: He has better fashion sense than his brothers with yellow skin color and black dots along his body. This species is commonly found in the area of Hang En Waterfall - Gia Lai.

How to prevent leech bite

How to prevent leech bites

Prepare the clothes

  • You should choose long-sleeved shirts, long pants, discreet high socks or use leggings around the ankles to avoid exposing the legs, arms and neck to prevent the penetration of this tiny animal.
  • Clothing made of wool or nylon is a difficult obstacle for leeches. Because they move by flicking, but on these materials they can't move more than 10cm.

Anti-leech medication

  • Today, there are also many anti-squeezing drugs, so you can prepare a bottle in your backpack before the trip.
  • Leeches are afraid of bitter and salty substances, so you can mix them with bold salt water or use insect repellents with a bitter taste to spray / apply to the ankles and shoes.
  • Some traditional ways of Vietnamese such as using lime, frangipani oil, vinegar,...

Be careful when moving

  • You should also avoid dense, humid places, and limit direct skin contact with the ground when moving in the forest
  • You should clean the surrounding area, sprinkle with salt or use insect spray when sitting and resting or setting up a tent

How to prevent leech bite

Treatment when bitten by a leech

If unfortunately you are bitten by a leech, you should note the quick treatment of the wound according to the following steps.

  • Calmly remove the leech from the body, then check if there are any more, then catch them. Leeches do not cause dangerous diseases, so don't be too afraid.
  • In case they cling too tightly, you should use a thin-edged object such as a knife, ATM card available in the backpack to take them out. Then applying salt around the bite or using fire, they will immediately release.
  • Wash the wound with clean water.
  • Use your hand to press firmly on the wound to prevent bleeding.
  • Then take a medical bandage and bandage the wound every 15-20 minutes until the wound has clotted.

The enemy of the Vietnamese trekking village: trekker & leech. If you accidentally fall in love with this leech friend, just calmly remove them and return them to nature.



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