Leeches look so little and tiny but they can be a treacherous thing once attached to any of your body parts. They silently get attached with the body of a host with their specially modified mouth parts and continue sucking blood from the host till they are full. Once full, they detach their bodies from the host. The size and length of a leech can be multiplied many times after sucking blood. When a leech gets attached with a host or sucks blood, the host hardly feels a thing. Leeches secret a form of local anesthesia from their mouth which takes away the sensation of pain from the area for the time, letting the leech to easily attach itself and suck blood without the knowledge of the host.
Apart from the local anesthesia leeches also secret an anti-coagulant compound from their mouth which prevents the coagulation of blood while the leech is sucking. In most of the cases, even after the leech has completed its meal and dropped off the blood from the wound does not stop and needs immediate treatment. In this article, first we will take a look at the ways to remove leeches safely.
When there is a leech sucking blood and hanging from your body, it is really difficult to keep your calm. You might feel like simply detaching it forcefully by pulling it off. However, it is never the right way of removing a leech as it can exaggerate the wound and the bleeding from the area. Some mouth parts of the leech might still stay intact within your skin if you pull it off with force, which can cause further complications. Some of the most effective and safe ways to detach a leech are,
How to protect yourself from leeches
Leech socks are specially made to avoid leeches. Buy one and wear it like socks by just tying it below your knees. These socks will prevent the leeches to get stuck between your toes and feet.
Baking soda and lemon
These two combinations are perfect for removing leeches as lemon juice is slightly acidic in nature. Make a thin paste by mixing them together and simply pour on the body of the leech. This will make the body of the leech fall off and shrink.
Dettol is an antiseptic disinfectant liquid which is widely used to drive the leeches away. Always keep it handy whenever you go for swimming. You can directly apply in on your body before you go into the water or pour it on the leech’s body.
Before you decide to dive into that swimming pool, do not forget to apply eucalyptus oil all over your body. All you need to do is mix 20 drops of eucalyptus oil with 10 drops of lavender oil along with distilled water. Put it inside a spray bottle and spray it directly on the skin. The peculiar smell of the oil will keep the leeches away.
Castor oil when mixed with tobacco can be used to remove leeches.
Iron and lighter
Using iron for getting rid of leeches is quite a cruel one but is effective at the same time. Take a small iron piece, it may be a safety pin or a corkscrew. Now warm it up with a lighter flame. Use this iron piece to prick the leech’s body. This will burst its body and immediately it will fall off. Remember that you should not over heat the iron.
If you are unable to remove the leeches, do not forget to immediately contact a doctor to get the necessary medical attention. Doctors use instruments that easily remove the leeches without hurting you.
Remove leeches quickly with table salt
Table salt is one of the easy available ingredients that can detach a leech quickly. Salt kills the leech or causes irritation in its body and automatically the leech shrinks its mouth parts and detaches itself trying to move away from the spot. If you find a leech attached to your body, put a handful of table salt on it immediately and wait for the leech to drop off on its own. Make sure that you put the salt on the body of the leech and not close to the point where the leech has attached itself. Sprinkling salt to the area near the wound can increase the pain once the effect of the local anesthesia injected by the leech is gone.
After the leech has fall off, first wash off the area with clean water and then use an antiseptic. You might need to use a tight bandage or apply some blood-coagulant on the spot to stop the bleeding.
Tobacco leaf for removing leeches
Tobacco leaves are the other thing that can easily kill a leech and remove it from your body. However, unless you are already prepared to deal with leeches it might be a bit difficult to find tobacco leaves always at hand. If you are in an area with high leech population or if you swim in water where there might be leeches, it is best to keep a tobacco leaf solution prepared at hand.
Just soak few dried and shredded tobacco leaves in minimum water. To detach the leech from your body, pour in this water soaked tobacco leaves on the body of the leach. Within seconds the leech will shrink and loosen up its bite. Slowly it will detach and fall off. First clean the area properly and then follow proper treatment to stop the bleeding and treat the wound.
Vinegar for removing leeches
Vinegar can also work efficiently to kill and remove the leech. If you have vinegar at hand, simply pour in half cap of vinegar on the body of the leech, not near the wound on your skin. The vinegar will cause irritation and make the leech detach itself quickly and fall off.
Lemon juice can also work
If you do not have vinegar at hand, a lemon can do it too. The acid present in lemon juice is sufficient to irritate the skin of leeches and make it fall off. Just squeeze half of a lemon on the posterior part of the body of the leech, avoiding the area where it has got attached with your body. After application, the leech will automatically shrink and fall off.
Alcohol is the other option
Alcohol can be another effective option to remove leeches. Pouring in some alcohol on the body of the leech will make it withdraw its mouth parts and fall off quickly. It is considered the best way to remove a leech quickly if somehow it has got attached in your mouth.
You can try a flame
A flame or a burning cigarette can also do the task for you. All you need to do is to apply the flame directly to the posterior part of the leech that is not attached with your body. The heat will cause irritation and make the leech fall off.
While the above techniques work perfectly well for removing leeches quickly, according to some travelers instead of applying a chemical, salt or flame on the leech it is better to remove it with a special technique. They opine, after applying an irritant on the leech, it will try to leave the place quickly and in that haste it is most expected to regurgitate some of the sucked in blood into the wound. This might make the wound worse and healing of the wound more complicated. The physical technique suggested by the travel enthusiasts has been described below.
Remove leech physically – without pulling it off
- First locate the oral sucker of the leech at the mouth end
- Use your finger nail or a flat and blunt object to slide under the oral sucker by applying light force. This will break the seal and the leech will detach its jaws.
- Now repeat the process to open up the sucker at the rear end. It is important that you do the whole process quickly so that the leech does not get the chance to contract.
- After the leech has been removed, clean the wound and treat it properly.
Puncture the body of the leech
You can use this technique only if the leech has got attached to some hard to reach body parts and seems to crawl in deeper. If the leech has attached itself to the inside of your nose or ears and only the posterior end of it is still visible, simply puncture the skin of the leech with a sharp object instead of trying to pull it out. The leech will die and loosen its grip. It will give you the time to rush to a doctor.
Precautions to avoid leeches while swimming
If you are swimming in an area that is prone to leeches, it is really important that you take proper precautions before getting into the water. Leeches love moist place and there can be a sufficiently high population of leeches in a pond. If you already know that there are leeches in a particular water body, it is best to not to use it for swimming till it has been cleaned and cleared off leeches. However, if the area is prone to leeches but the water body does not seem to have these tiny irritating organisms living in them, in such cases you should take proper precautions before jumping into the water. Some of the precautions that you should take to avoid leeches while swimming are,
Wear full covering swimming clothes
If you are swimming in a water body that might have leeches, the most important precaution that you can take is to wear a swimming costume that is sufficiently thick and covers your whole body. Body covering clothes can give you maximum protection from leeches while swimming. Also make sure that you put on a swimming cap so that your ears are well covered and leeches cannot get into your ears, which can be dangerous. Wearing layered full covering clothes is also an effective precaution you can take to stay away from leeches.
Apply some insect repellant onto your clothes and body
Applying some insect repellant onto your clothes and body before you get down for swimming can also be helpful to discourage the leeches from coming close and getting attached to your body. However, if the insect repellant is water soluble it will wash off pretty quickly in water and in that case you will need to continue reapplication of the repellant. A pack made with tobacco leaf can also be used on the body or under the cloth to ensure that the leeches are discouraged from coming close.
Always check your body well after coming out of water
As already mentioned, you will hardly know when a leech will attach itself to your body. So, once you have come out of the water, make sure to check yourself cautiously. They might be sticking to the areas that are not easily visible. So, once you are out of the water take care to look for any signs of leeches on your body. Leeches might have perked itself on you and then left off after sucking blood while you were swimming. So, also look for any bleeding wound of leech that might need immediate treatment.