Leech bite: Treatment, Infection and cure


Leeches are mostly found in the damp area. They love living in a wet place. They are mostly found in the tropical and subtropical climate. So, chances are higher that leeches would be found in the South-East Asian countries where there is a rainy season, often called as the monsoon in India.  Thus, monsoon is a big time when you would find a lot of leeches on every square feet in the forest.

Where are leeches found?

  • Leeches are found in the dump areas
  • They could be hiding underground or on the twigs or leaves. They could simply be found anywhere in the forest
  • Leeches are mostly found in the low-land area with thick forests somewhere around upto 3000 feet
  • The higher you trek, the lower their density would get with altitude
  • Thus, in South India rain forests, leeches are mostly found in the forests with thick tree covers. Once you trek and reach open grasslands after 3000 feet, you would see that the number of leeches has gone down drastically.

How do leech bites happen?

  • There is no rule on the trek or hiking inside a forest that the person walking in the front would get lesser leech bites. This would be true only if the person does not stop at all for others walking behind. Most of the times, the person walking at the front stops and waits for others which give more than ample time to leeches to crawl over.
  • Leeches are sensitive to vibrations and body heat.

leech bite picture on trekking in south india

  • Since they are sensitive to body heat, thus they would mostly prefer the body areas where body heat is usually higher like armpits, under the feet, belly etc. So cover these areas to avoid leech bites
  • Leeches in south India treks can suck blood from both sides. so be careful

Myths about leeches:

  • Leeches can jump. No, they can not.
  • They can grow when cut half. No chance
  • Any other stories: apply your brain pls

How to avoid leeches:

Avoidance or prevention is better than cure. Here are the tips on how to avoid leeches from sticking to your body.

  • Applying salt (during monsoon, salt easily gets washed away and moreover, this solution is effective only after the leech attack)
  • Make a mix of Coconut Oil and tobacco and apply on your body especially on lower and exposed areas like legs and arms.
  • You can also mix a mosquito repellant cream with tobacco and apply on the exposed part of your body. Leech do not like the smell of tobacco.
  • Wear a leech socks or Trail-Gaiter (A thick cloth socks which won’t allow leeches to slip in through) 

    leechsocks

    Source: trailofasia.com A leech socks

  • Keep walking and not to lean on any plants/ tree in the forest (The best for a leech to come into contact with you)
  • Do not stop to remove the leeches (By the time, you take out some, a few another would already be there on your socks)
  • Cover yourself properly 
  • You can also use Ladies Knee Length Stockings
  • Strong smell of Dettol also repels the leeches
  • or, the last resort is they would suck up blood; get fatter and roll down  themselves like a lazy fat insect

Leech bites Precaution:

  • Do not scratch that area. It will itch a lot but scratching would never allow new cells formation over the wound
  • Do not panic or scream, they are very week insects and leeches do not carry poison.
  • Due to anticoagulant, the leech bites would not allow stop bleeding. Better would be put a piece of paper over there and bleeding stops most of the times.

leech bites trekking india south (2)A paper acts as coagulant during leech bites

  • Apply any antiseptic cream to prevent further infection until you see a doctor 

Leech bite treatment for leech wound and leech Infection:

  • First of all, never let a leech bite gets older or it turns into eczema.Eczema
  • Never let the skin gets dry; apply moisturizer over there regularly
  • One of the most effective solutions is using creams and Moisturizers like Cetaphil
  • They are known to be one of the most effective remedies against the leech bites. I have personally used them on my 5-months old leech bite. It is very effective and it worths making a purchase because it worked out in less than a week for me. Do not expose yourself to health risk for prolonged leech bites.
  • Use Candid B cream if there is itching. Candid B cream has Clotrimazole which is very effective in the case of fungal treatment.

Natural Remedies for Leech bite skin allergies:

Some of us always look out for natural remedies for skin allergies. A leech bite is no different when it comes to skin allergies. Some of the symptoms of the skin allergy are:

  • Rashes on the skin
  • A lot of itching
  • The profusion of water-like blood
  • Swelling of the infected part etc.

Well, some of the most common causes of skin allergies are:

  • Skin exposed to external factors like sun, dust, dry weather, getting rubbed against clothing etc.
  • Itching and scratching the wound (Even if you try to control it a lot)
  • House flies sitting on it time and again etc.

Now, if you do not want to try the moisturizer as recommended above, you can also for other natural treatment solutions for the leech bites and skin allergies by applying:

These natural remedies for leech bites and skin infections and allergies are known to work the best against the skin allergies.  These oils cleanse the skin, neem oil even clean the blood and the infected part. Aloe Vera on the other hand, is known for providing the moisturizing effect on the skin.
This is the reason doctors and Ayurveda also recommend using these oil for glowing skin and to remove the rashes and skin allergies.


Also Read:  Trekking risks on Himalayan treks in North India

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About trekkerp

Author of The Girl from the Woods and a Travel writer from India looking forward to collect quirky tales from around the world

21 Replies to “Leech bite: Treatment, Infection and cure”

  1. zul

    hi. i went to a camp last year (nearly 12 months). i was bitten by a type of leech which is smaller (can be found easily around Asia). it has swollen and has blood like blister, swollen and very itchy on that spot. i always scratch it and it is gotten worse. the skin is getting darker and always bleed as i l always scratch it. the spot becomes bigger. my concern is that, months later (till today), i have the same few spots which is getting bigger around my legs. i thought it was scabies but nothing happen when i treated it with anti-scabies. now i have a few around my legs. is it because of the leech bite or something else? and what should i do?

    Reply
  2. Diya

    Hi, my mom recently got a leech bite and as far as possible, the leech might have probably entered in the body….so , what should I do?? Which doctor( I mean, which specialist) would be able to help?? Please reply….it’s important.

    Reply
  3. (E)????

    I have a one week old leech bite and it has closed two days ago but I have noticed today that it became red and got bigger. like a bump, swelling? very small one. is it something serious? should I be worried?
    sorry for my bad English.

    Reply
  4. Leech Hunter

    Hello! Are there any places close to Bangalore (which can be accessed in a day’s trip) where I could find leeches? Most places that I know of are too far away to be covered in a single day.
    (I need the leeches for a project on animal behavior, that is why I am looking for them.)

    Reply
  5. Chaithanya Sarath

    Hi ,
    I have a two year old leech bite.the leech bite has closed 6 months after the bite but occasionally i see swelling in that part.should it be shown to a doctor or is there an alternative for it

    Reply
  6. Koushik Chattopadhyay

    Hi, I was bitten by a leech about 10 months back. It occasionally itches and a small area around the bite had become quite stiff. A few days back, a blackish red blood oozed out. The lump has reduced since then. What treatment should I follow?

    Should I consult some doctor (if so, what specialization)? What are the long term effects of the leech bite?

    Reply
  7. Koushik Chattopadhyay

    Hi, I got bit by a leech about 10 months ago. Occasionally it itches but only for a short period of time. A small area around the bite has become very stiff. A few days back, while itching blackish red blood oozed out. The lump has reduced a little after that.
    How should I cure it completely? Should I consult a doctor (if so, which specialization)? Is there any long term side effects?

    Reply
    • trekkerp Post author

      Hi Koushik,

      Since it is a very old bite, I would suggest you consult a doctor (Skin specialist/ dermatologist). Yes, it has long term effects like eczema and darker skin on that area.

      Please do not scratch or itch until you see a doctor. Use moisturizer and keep it open until that time.

      Let me know the doctor’s advice

      Reply
  8. lilly

    hi I am looking for a leech treatment I have a bad toe doctors can’t fix it
    it need to bleed it out I am diabetic I have bad nerve pain I need help

    Reply
    • trekkerp Post author

      Hi Lily,

      If you could explain your problem in little more detail, I think I can help you. Else please visit a doctor.

      Reply
  9. Leech Bitten

    Really a perfect post. Actually leech bite cannot be taken easy. Treatment post leech bite is very important. Infact without treatment it can lead to serious cellulitis and eczema after which the wound may become big and take even 6 months to heal. I believe its mandatory to leech socks especially if trekking in forests with leeches.

    Reply

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