You can, in addition, use personal insect repellent of which
the best contain a high concentration of diethyl toluamide
(DET). Liquid is best for arms and face; take care around
eyes and make sure you do not dissolve the plastic of your
spectacles. Aerosol spray on clothes and ankles deter mites
and ticks. Liquid DIET suspended in water can be used to impregnate
cotton clothes and mosquito nets. The latter are now available
in wide mesh form which are lighter to carry and less claustrophobic
to sleep under.
If you are bitten, itching may be relieved by cool baths and
antihistamine tables (take care with alcohol or when driving),
corticosteroid creams (use with great care and never use if
any hint of septic poisoning) or by judicious scratching.
Calamine lotion and cream have limited effectiveness and antihistamine
creams have tendency to cause skin allergies and are therefore
not generally recommended. 6' which become infected (a common
problem in the tropics) should be treated with local antiseptic
or antibiotic cream such as Cetrimide, as should infected
scratches. Skin infestations with body lice, crabs and scabies
are unfortunately easy to pick up. Use gamma benzene hexachloride
for lice and benzyl benzoate for scabies. Crotamiton cream
alleviates itching and also kills a number of skin parasites.
Malathion lotion is good for lice but avoid the highly toxic
full strength Malathion which is used, as an agricultural
Bites & stings
If you are unlucky enough to be bitten by a venomous snake,
spider, scorpion centipede or sea creature, try (within limits)
to catch or kill the animal for identification. Reactions
to be expected are shock, swelling, pain and bruising around
the bite, soreness of the regional lymph glands, nausea, vomiting
and fever. If in addition any of the following symptoms should
follow closely, get the victim to a doctor with delay: numbness,
tingling of the face, muscular spasms, convulsions, shortness
breath or haemorrhage. Commercial snake-bite or scorpion-sting
kits may be available but these are only useful against the
specific type of snake or scorpion for which they are designed.
The serum has to be given intravenously so is not much good
unless you have had some practice in making injections into
veins. lf the bite is on a limb, immobilize it and apply a
tight bandage between the bite and the body releasing it for
90 secs every 15 mins. Reassurance of the victim is very import
because death from snake bite is very rare. Do not slash the
bite area and try to she out the poison because this sort
of heroism does more harm than good. Hospitals usually hold
stocks of snake-bite serum. The best precaution is not to
walk in long grass with bare feet, sandals or in shorts.
When swimming in an area where there are poisonous fish such
as stone scorpion fish (also called by a variety of local
names) or sea urchins on rocky coasts tread carefully or wear
plimsolls/trainers. The sting of such fish is intensely painful
can be relieved by immersing the injured part of the body
in water as hot as you c bear for as long as it remains painful.
This is not always very practical and you must take care not
to scald yourself, but it does work. Avoid spiders and scorpion
by keeping your bed away from the wall, look under lavatory
seats and inside your shoes in the morning. In the rare event
of being bitten, consult a doctor.
Intestinal worms are common and the more
serious ones, such as hookworm, can be contracted by walking
barefoot on infested earth or beaches.
Influenza and respiratory diseases
are common, perhaps made worse by polluted cities and rapid
temperature and climatic changes -accentuated by air-conditioning.
Prickly heat is a very common itchy rash,
best avoided by frequent washing and by wearing loose clothing.
It can be helped by the use of talcum powder, allowing skin
to dry thoroughly after washing.
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