Beware of cuts in the tropics

Common knowledge to some, as it was to me, but here’s a small tale that I hope someone out there can benefit from…

I was in the Philippines diving for 10 days just over 2 weeks ago. After 2 connecting flights, I arrived at the beach and got into my beach gear, which included some newish flip-flops I bought in Kenting a while ago.
Anyway, after wearing them on and around the beach, I ended up with a small skin graze under one strap. Kinda annoying, but certainly not painful. About half the size of my small fingernail.

As I was diving 2 times a day, I was in a wet wetsuit for about 3-4 hrs total per day, so the graze on my foot didn’t get much of a chance to dry out and heal. But, I was keeping and eye on it and it looked fine. After a couple of days I bought some Iodine and would dress it with that after drying off and I figured short of staying out of the water completely, that was about as much as I could do.

When I got home to Taiwan last week, I noticed the graze still wasn’t healed but not looking too nasty. I was dressing it, but having to wear shoes for work. At lunch on my first day back I could feel my lymph gland in my upper leg getting pretty tender so I knew my body was working hard to get the healing done. By about 3pm that day a fever hit me and I was having trouble walking. I felt weak, lethargic and starting to get pretty concerned things were not going too well.
I headed home and went to see the doc, who was pretty concerned with all of this. He told me I was on the verge of going to hospital, but he would administer some IV antibiotics immediately followed by oral ABs, and we would see how things went.
The next 2 days were pretty bad, very feverish with cold sweats, very weak and drained, with my lymph glands tender.
Day 3 finally saw a real improvement with the fever dying down and generally everything else getting more comfortable. As I write this it’s been 6 days since it hit me, and I am out of the woods now but still not 100%. The doc is continuing me on the course of Antibiotics until the graze is fully healed and I feel better.

Pretty scary encounter with the dangers of how fast infections spread in the tropics. I don’t really have much more to add but just felt like it was a good idea to pass this on so if anyone else out there get a cut or something while on vacation in Asia, make sure you take real good care of it asap and monitor it until it is healed. I am considering building a decent personal First Aid kit to go travelling with and include some antibiotics just incase they are needed in a hurry or in a remote location.

I’e like to second his warning. In the summer in South Korea (very hot and raining all the time) I got a small blister on a toe on a Saturday. I didn’t think anything of it - but by the time I woke up on Tuesday morning I had a lovely outline of the blood vessels of my foot and a dark red line running up my leg. Horribly high fever and the shakes. The doctor was actullay talking about having to amputate my foot. Fortunately, it eventually healed, but even three weeks later my foot was all swollen and there was still pus in the wound.
Make sure any cuts or blisters are kept dry and exposed to the air.

Onset of gangrene? If so you were really lucky …

BTW, Truant … you mention the Philippines but it can happen in Taiwan too, I’ve had several infections here from small wounds but immediately started applying wide spectrum AB ointment preventing worse, but even in southern Europe it can happen … I had several severe infections on my leg and my behind from slipping on a rock outcrop in Yugoslavia at the end of the 70’s … didn’t think much about it and after a few days it started to get infected … got a real harsh treatment from a local doctor and still have the scars to proof it …

FYI, if you ever by accident get a wound from coral … start applying AB oinment ASAP, corals harbour mean bugs … so can the water from affluence run-off near the beaches, ports …

So, antibiotic powder, ointment, cream is the key? What are the names of these, and are the ones you buy from the chemist here any good? I’m always getting cuts! :astonished: (A nasty cat bite got a bit infected and swelled up a lot, but our vet gave me some antibiotics and the problem soon went away. But I have started cocking my leg when I pee now.)

I have bacitracin neomycin ointment but there are others

In my first aid kit when I go diving/travel I normally have AB ointment and tablets, desinfectants, Imodium, Dulcolax, active carbon tablets and other stuff …

By the way, glad you’re OK, Truant. Forgot to say that earlier, in all my selfish regard. :blush:

Ha. Cheers for the well wishes. It was a bit touch and go there for a minute and one of those situations that could have got really ugly if I thought “Oh I will see how it goes overnight and see the doc if it gets worse”.

Just a lesson I thought was worth sharing.

I recieved a bee sting while hiking, which went septic almost immediately. The E.R. doc said it’s quite common here.
I assumed the lingering redness of my arm was due to the sting, so went to bed that night and thought nothing of it. I had to go to the hospital the next day for i.v. antibiotics and had to take a course of oral antibiotics to follow.

For small nuisance cuts, I use tea tree oil. It works well if you use it early on, and it has a very pleasant piney smell. Don’t use this stuff near your eyes or mouth, though.

Wow, sorry to hear about that, Truant! :astonished:

I’ve had tiny cuts get infected too, although never that bad.

BTW, you can get little moist-towelette-style packages with alcohol and iodine, and since they’re flat and only about 4 cm square, they slip easily into a pocket or fanny pack. I used one on your dog Jack, didn’t I? Or was it his victim? :laughing:

They also sell cotton swabs that have iodine in the central stem; you bend the stem to release the iodine into the swab. Very tiny, and easy to add to a kit. Same goes for adhesive bandages. With a few of those, a tiny tube of multiple antibiotic ointment, a tiny ziplock full of a few miscellaneous pills (pain relief, anti-diarrheal, etc.) and a miniature Swiss army knife (very useful for the tweezers), you can make a micro kit smaller than your wallet.

Expanding, you can add a roll of medical tape and some sealed flat gauze, and so on. Sterile saline solution in a 2.5 x 8cm tube (sold for contact wearers) is good for irrigating cuts or washing something out of your eye. Add a small tube of a multi-use ointment for burns and bites, and so on.That should still all fit in a ziplock sandwich bag.

I recommend setting up three such kits; put one in your car or bike, one in your travel bag, and a third in your medicine cabinet at home (with additional content). Mine have come in handy on many occasions.

[quote=“Dragonbones”]Wow, sorry to hear about that, Truant! :astonished:

I’ve had tiny cuts get infected too, although never that bad.

BTW, you can get little moist-towelette-style packages with alcohol and iodine, and since they’re flat and only about 4 cm square, they slip easily into a pocket or fanny pack. I used one on your dog Jack, didn’t I? Or was it his victim? :laughing:

They also sell cotton swabs that have iodine in the central stem; you bend the stem to release the iodine into the swab. Very tiny, and easy to add to a kit. Same goes for adhesive bandages. With a few of those, a tiny tube of multiple antibiotic ointment, a tiny ziplock full of a few miscellaneous pills (pain relief, anti-diarrheal, etc.) and a miniature Swiss army knife (very useful for the tweezers), you can make a micro kit smaller than your wallet.

Expanding, you can add a roll of medical tape and some sealed flat gauze, and so on. Sterile saline solution in a 2.5 x 8cm tube (sold for contact wearers) is good for irrigating cuts or washing something out of your eye. Add a small tube of a multi-use ointment for burns and bites, and so on.That should still all fit in a ziplock sandwich bag.

I recommend setting up three such kits; put one in your car or bike, one in your travel bag, and a third in your medicine cabinet at home (with additional content). Mine have come in handy on many occasions.[/quote]

Or, easier, just do what we did and invite Dragonbones to come along on your camping trip. :wink:

Yeah, THAT kit was adequate for major surgery. :loco:

Truant, glad to hear you are okay man. I’ve been meaning to put a first-aid kit together for ages. Now I will do this.

I got cut on coral a few years ago while surfing in Nias (Indonesia). Fairly small cut, I put some iodine on it and tried to keep it dry - which was kinda hard when a 6 foot swell rolls into Nias.

Anyway, there’s something in coral, some kind of bug or poison that takes about a month to fully leave your system. The cut I had from the coral didn’t fully heal for about 6 weeks, although it didn’t get any worse.

What was most surprising was that a couple of weeks after I’d cut myself on the coral, but before it had healed, I was in either Bali or Singapore (can’t remember which) and managed to stub my toe on a gutter. A tiny, tiny graze that only just broke the skin, but because of the coral poison in my system, this graze also took a month to heal.

I’m just glad I didn’t cut myself shaving - a facial cut that takes a month to heal wouldn’t look too good.

This is a scary thread! Really.

I’ve had cuts and abrasions from hiking here in Taiwan, but they’ve all healed quickly, no further trouble. I’ve heard things can get nasty though. Taiwan is well tropical enough.

Appreciate the info. Thanks.

you should always have lube too when coming here,thrust me big boy!

glad you’re ok too true ant

where were you on diving trip?

Yep coral is a bitch, I got raked in Bing Yin in Bali 2 years ago and it took about 6 weeks to heal.

(I’m in Bali now, knock on wood about the ole’ reef rash)

Half the surfers there were recovering from reef rash, the old woman who ran the place I stayed in would come around every hour or so and change their dressings.

Truant,
They sell booties you can wear under your fins to prevent the rash from the strap- I’m in the water 6 or 7 hours a day boogie boarding (when I’m on vacation) and your skin just gets fucked.

You can pick up a pair at Jeff’s Surf in Da Xi (Honeymoon Bay) they are about $800NT.

Hey Mr Frog, I was in Bohol (Alona Beach) for about 6 days and Apo Island, off the coast of Negros Oriental near Dauin for about 3 days.

Bubba, thanks for your tip. I have and use booties with my fins every dive, but the damage came from when I was in R&R mode wearing my flip-flops along the beach. A bit of sharp sand/small coral got under the strap when I was walking along and barely broke the skin with a graze. It all went south from there.

DB, thanks also for your First Aid tips. Good suggestions about the kit. I was using Iodine after coming out of the water from each day’s diving, but underestimated how serious this minor wound was. I wish I took a picture of it, it was so small it looked like a paint splatter on the top of my foot.

I am glad I posted this anyway, seems like this thread is emphasizing how common it is for this stuff to happen, so awareness for everyone can only be a good thing.

Well, good to know your fine now … so next time, try to keep it dry when not in the water and put AB ointment and dissinfectant every moment possible …

[quote=“Truant”]Hey Mr Frog, I was in Bohol (Alona Beach) for about 6 days and Apo Island, off the coast of Negros Oriental near Dauin for about 3 days.
.[/quote]

next time PM me,we have a resort in dauin, i could have got you a special deal too.

so,dauin or sabang,just let me know :wink:

[quote=“dablindfrog”][quote=“Truant”]Hey Mr Frog, I was in Bohol (Alona Beach) for about 6 days and Apo Island, off the coast of Negros Oriental near Dauin for about 3 days.
.[/quote]

next time PM me,we have a resort in dauin, i could have got you a special deal too.

so,dauin or sabang,just let me know :wink:[/quote]
sure will. Geez I didn’t realize you were so close :unamused: Dumaguete is going off!