MEDICAL: Ditch Medicine – Wound and Infection Management

Dude, No amount of Cipro is going to fix this

Disclaimer

Wound care away from the hospital is always a problem.  And thanks to Bear Grylls, everyone thinks that any cut or scrape is going to lead to gangrene and amputation.

While antibiotics are often tough to acquire in any decent amount to treat a seriously infected wound outside of a licensed medical facility, here are some steps that you can use to prevent that field amputation.

First, wash the crap out of the wound.

Sounds easy, but a serious laceration or puncture is tougher to wash out than just using a bottle of hand sanitizer.  You need to pressure wash the wound to make sure that anything embedded (debris or bacteria) has been removed.

Two easy ways:

1: Take a standard average plastic bottle, poke a hole in the cap and squeeze.  Creates a jet of water that you can use to wash the wound

2: Take a Ziploc bag filled with water, cut a small bit of the corner off, and again squeeze to create a jet of water.

Adding some salt in the water will help to create a more aseptic solution.

Now that the wound is clean, here’s an easy Ditch medicine step to keep it from getting infected:

Ditch medicine Infection Management for those who can’t go to a hospital – former hip-hop singer not included:

Take povidone (sold in drugstores as Betadine) and mix in sugar until the solution has the consistency of honey.  Spread this liberally across the margins of the wound.  This trick is an old-wives tale but actually holds true.  Not surprisingly, it’s not condoned by the AMA or any other medical body, but horse trainers have been using it for years, and it does work, even on humans.

Different types of betadine

Note:  This works best with liquid Betadine, but if you don’t have any, you could try substituting iodine tablets dissolved in water.  Use a lot of tablets and not much water to make a very yellow solution (I’ve not personally tested this, but I’ve been told 10-15 tablets per 500ml of water should work).  In this case, something is better than nothing.  Ditch medicine at its finest.

While iodine (Betadine) by itself is an antiseptic, adding sugar in the mix does a couple of things.  Most importantly, it will keep the Betadine in place and in solution (iodine does shit when it dries) for long periods of time.  In addition the sugar will work to osmotically pull fluid from the wound decreasing edema (swelling) and the ability of bacteria to get inside the wound.

Short version: Rinse + Betadine + sugar = decreased infections and no amputations.

Sorry Bear, hate to f*** up your show.

“its just like a little cock in my mouth”

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~John B
Correspondent – Medical and S&R

John B has been an EMT for 18 years and is currently a Field Team Leader for a Search and Rescue Team, he also holds a Master’s degree in Neuroscience.

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20 thoughts on “MEDICAL: Ditch Medicine – Wound and Infection Management”

  1. I read once about the use of sugar in wound treatment in a science magazine, and I dimly recall that there were several things about sugar that aided wound-healing and prevented infection (it was over 25 years ago so the memory is very dim).

    The point where that article failed is that none of the scientists experimenting with it had found a realistic method for applying sugar to wound in a medically expedient way. Great tip.

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  2. The only reason I knew about the sugar thing was because it was mentioned in the movie “Shooter” and I googled it

    ~James G

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  3. How much salt should I add to the water I use to wash the wound out?

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  4. I have treated a considerable number of infected wounds and burns with raw honey and believe it is superior to iodine, which can damage tissue and provide more debris for bacteria and fungi to feed upon.

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    1. true iodine kills everything, just bacteria faster than flesh

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  5. Thanks for the comments-

    Ideally, the solution for a wash would be sterile normal saline solution 0.9% NaCL (9g NaCl / 1L water), but this is ditch medicine so any salt will help to inhibit bacteria growth in the non-sterile water you’re going to be spraying into the wound. The purpose of washing the wound is to remove any debris, so if you don’t have salt, just use water by itself.

    Honey is awesome. In fact, seeing as how it’s been used by everyone since the Egyptians, I’d say it’s the true Old-School Man way. Lee, you’re correct that long-term use of iodine can inhibit capillary circulation, which could cause tissue damage or delay healing. So especially for long-term burn treatment, I would also use raw honey over iodine.

    Different options depending on what you have. In fact, if you didn’t have iodine, pouring granulated sugar by itself into the wound will work too (after you control the bleeding). The sugar will need to replaced periodically as it gets “soupy”. The main idea is that you want to have something that will osmotically pull fluid from the damaged tissue, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to get a foothold.

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  6. Can I use any honey? Like the one in the bear bottle?

    ~James G

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  7. Preferably the one in the bear bottle. Mainly because it looks bad-ass in a multi-cam tactical bag.

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    1. I bet it would also fit in an M-4 double mag pouch – lol

      ~James G

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  8. Heh, I thought some of this was BS, but google confirms and embraces the honey/sugar treatments – thanx for the tips. And oh yeah – f**k Bear Grylls!

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    1. He just may take you up on that

      ~James G

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  9. \

    I have treated a considerable number of infected wounds and burns with raw honey and believe it is superior to iodine, which can damage tissue and provide more debris for bacteria and fungi to feed upon.   

    Yup. Honey has been used on wounds since ancient Egypt. Not sure about RAW honey, though. That can contain botulism spores.

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  10. Nice, I’m gonna add honey to my multi-cam bug out bag!!!

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  11. \
    Yup. Honey has been used on wounds since ancient Egypt. Not sure about RAW honey, though. That can contain botulism spores.  

    Don’t want to muddy the issue anymore, but what the hell.

    There’s actually a honey “made” for treatment of wounds. It’s called Manuka honey (or MediHoney) and is sold in a medically sterile formulation. Manuka has some properties that make it better for wound healing/anti-bacterial action than other honeys (lower pH, it’s medically sterile, etc.), but it’s from New Zealand so it might be a little pricey to buy with the intention of packing it in your BOB or gear bag.

    Food grade honey is pasteurized and/or filtered to remove pollen and render any other nasty stuff inert. In a survival situation, it’s an option, however, this is not a guarantee that the honey packet from Kentucky Fried Chicken is going to work or not make the wound worse.

    As far as tearing off into the nearest bee hive and scooping out raw honey and smearing it on your wounds – that’s your call. If you have some peanut butter and bread though, you’ll have a pretty tasty sandwich.

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  12. Too bad you deleted the link to the research that I put in my first post. It would give you guys some data. I have used manuka honey and actually found that it wasn’t as good as good old American RAW honey. To each his own, however.

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  13. Too bad you deleted the link to the research that I put in my first post. It would give you guys some data. I have used manuka honey and actually found that it wasn’t as good as good old American RAW honey. To each his own, however.  

    Lee does have a TON of info on honey at the site that links through by clicking on his name.
    If that doesn’t work, the site is here
    http://www.drgrotte.com/honey-medicine.shtml
    Great information, thanks Lee.

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  14. Hey – I was the one that deleted that link

    I didn’t click over so I didn’t know it had info on honey

    Generally if someone puts a link on their very first comment I delete it just to prevent people from making posts just to link over to their blog.

    But if the info is relevant like John says then no problem

    ~James G

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  15. “1: Take a standard average plastic bottle, poke a hole in the cap and squeeze. Creates a jet of water that you can use to wash the wound.”

    I made simple handwashing bottles this way in SndBox because ti beat walking to the latrine trailer every time hands were getting crappy from standard airborne bung hole-ness of the place. Left the bottle in the sun and it was a great quick rinse.

    The holes I poked with my knife were uneven, so I drilled three small ones with a real drill.

    I keep a couple of those pre-drilled caps in my bag for same purpose and wound rinse. Even flow, better pressure and less water loss than a sports top.

    J

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  16. true antibiotics are avalable w/o a scrip just use the ones sold by vets
    such as ampicillin and ampicillin forte
    i would shy away from the tetracyclene’s tho as they do go bad and can have odd effects

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  17. what about adding the milk of mag first then the sugar mix?

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