No matter how prepared you may be for your outdoor expedition, injuries can happen at any time. This is why it is important to understand how to stop external bleeding while you are in the wilderness. Light cuts are not difficult to treat and all you need is some antiseptics and a bandage that you can find in many first aid kits. However, if it is a deep or large cut, this will often be serious requiring medical help. The first step towards stopping bleeding is to calm yourself. You can have sit or lie down so that you do not faint.
How to deal with light bleeding?
Light bleeding often affects the capillaries and these will heal quickly. When dealing with small scrapes and cuts where the flow of blood is light, the first thing you should do is to clean that wound. Start by cleaning the area. In an ideal situation, this would require the use of sterile gauze. However, when you are on the trail, a good option for doing that is a paper towel, a napkin or a clean strip of cloth. Make sure you do not infect the wound you have just cleaned.
If the cut keeps bleeding through the material, keep applying new material until you quell the flow. Avoid removing the soaked material. The goal should be to maintain a steady flow on the wound until the bleeding stops. This will also apply if there is a foreign object trapped in the wound.
It can also be helpful to apply triple-antibiotic ointment. By sapping a fresh bandage on the cut, you will be able to go on with your hiking.
How to stop heavy bleeding?
In case you realize that compression doesn’t stop the bleeding, there are chances that your vein or artery has been cut. This may be serious and you need to apply pressure on the area using a gauze pad. Do not attempt to remove the object. Instead, part material around it to stop the flow of blood and to minimize the movement of the object inside the cut.
Avoid walking as this will cause your heart rate to speed up, increasing the loss of blood. Where possible, try to keep the bleeding area above the heart as this will help reduce the bleeding.
Once you are sure that there is no more bleeding, use potable water to rinse the area before applying some antibiotics. You can then apply a clean bandage on the area before wrapping it tightly to prevent it from falling off. Ensure that it is not so tight to a point that it hinders the flow of blood. You can find out if there is proper circulation by looking at the skin temperature and coloration beneath the bandage are the same. Seek medical attention.
DIY remedies for bleeding
Now that you are in the wilderness, what will happen if you forgot to carry your first aid kit? There are some natural remedies for bleeding that you can try. These include:
If you do not have a bandage, superglue will do the trick. Start by cleaning the wound. You can then apply a small amount of superglue on the cut. Spread it until it is completely dry. The superglue will harden and it will become a replacement skin until the body is able to heal itself. Super glue is not toxic but it might have some minor side effects like skin irritation. It may also take time to remove. Therefore, it may be a good idea to only use this trick for small cuts and if you do not have any bandage.
To constrict blood vessels, you can apply ice on the wound. This will cause the formation of a clot and will help stop the bleeding. A good way of doing that is by wrapping ice in a clean and dry cloth and placing it on the wound.
A tea bag is commonly used in the treatment of bleeding after dental works. This is especially a good option if you have a tea bag that has been allowed to cool in the fridge. The reason why this natural remedy for bleeding works is because tea contains tannins that are hemostatic, resulting in the clotting of blood. Tannins also have astringents that result in constriction of blood vessels. This is also an antiseptic that helps to kill bacteria and ensure that the site contains no infections.
Majority of cosmetic products such as lip balms and Vaseline products have petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly contains a blend of waxes and oils that are effective in protecting the skin. This is why you often see martial arts and boxing players have their cuts treated using petroleum jelly. This makes it a perfect outdoor remedy for bleeding.
It is worth noting that petroleum jelly is a good remedy for shallow cuts. Start by wiping your skin dry. You can then clean the wound to get rid of the remaining jelly after the bleeding stops.
This a shrub from North America that is available in most online and grocery stores mostly in liquid form. This is effective in stopping bleeding as long as it is externally applied on the wound. A good idea would be to use distilled witch hazel bough from the reputable stores.
While it helps to shrink sweat glands, Aluminum chloride is a good antiperspirant that can help to constrict blood vessels helping in the clotting of the wound. In a study that was carried out in 2015, aluminum chloride was noted to be an effective method of controlling small internal bleeding.
Mouth wash contains alcohol which is a strong astringent. By applying it to the cut, it can help to make the blood clot more easily.
Preventing infection after an injury
Even after you have successfully stopped the bleeding, you need to clean the wound to ensure that there will be no infection. Start by rinsing it using cold water and soap. Wash the surrounding area. Where possible, get rid of debris and dirt inside the wound using a tweezer. Use rubbing alcohol to clean the tweezer before use.
Avoid cleaning the wound in a river, stream or lake. While the wilderness water may not be polluted with chemicals, there are bacteria in the water that can infect the wound. This is why you should use something like hydrogen peroxide or alcohol to clean it. Avoid coughing, sneezing or taking with dressing the wound. Avoid also touching the dressing surface that will come into contact with the wound.
When to seek medical attention?
There are certain bleeding types that can be life-threatening. These include where:
- There is blood spurting out
- Blood continues to come out even after dressing
- Blood pools on the ground
- Your clothes are soaked with blood
- Loss of the whole or part of the leg
- Where the person who is bleeding becomes unconscious or confused
There are also other situations where you should see a doctor even after the bleeding has stopped. These include where:
- The wound requires stitching
- It is hard to clean the wound
- The bleeding is internal
- Signs of infection can be seen
- There is bleeding as a result of a bite
- If you have not had a tetanus jab in the last 5 years
The chances of getting a cut while outdoor are too high that you should never dare to go out into the wilderness without that basic first aid kit. One of the leading causes of preventable death as a result of trauma is bleeding. Understanding how to control or prevent it is therefore very important.
Remember that your chances of stopping bleeding will depend on the supplies you have in your first aid kit. Therefore, make sure your first aid box has all the necessary supplies such as sterile bandages, alcohol wipes, gauze, cream, antibiotics, athletic tape, and latex gloves.
If you have a severe wound, your goal should be to stop the bleeding rather than application or cleaning of bandage. If it is not possible to move the victim after the bleeding has stopped, ensure that they lie flat with their feet raised for about 12 inches above the body. Cover them with a jacket, tarp or any other thing that can help in retention of body heat. Seek immediate medical assistance.