Your first task is to look to yourself, your basic fitness and general well-being before you hit the bush are very important. An individual who is physically fit will adapt to new environments more rapidly and with less stress on the body. Secondly, get any underlying health issues squared away before you go, even the most minor… you’d be amazed what a mild case of athletes’ foot can turn into!
Whatever it is, as far as is possible, get it resolved before you go away as the extreme environmental conditions can massively amplify even the simplest of health issues.
Next task is protection. Given all the exciting beasties which live in the bush your primary task should be to prevent them getting access to you, or more specifically the inside of your body. Forget about looking ally in the bush, shirt tucked in, top button done up, cuffs done up and full brim on your bush hat. Get yourself a mossie headnet, you’ll look like a nob but it’ll bring some comfort. Wear some fingerless cycling type gloves to protect the backs of your hands. Next protect from sunburn, you won’t always be under the tree canopy. The best product for this is a brand called P20, you can get it in Superdrug and Sainsbury’s. It’s a factor 50 sun block but the best thing about it is that it is an oil which soaks into the skin and stays there, you can’t sweat it off and it doesn’t come off in the rain. I have used this in many different types of environment and it has never let me down.
Next keep the beasties away, don’t miss the opportunity to get your clothing treated with permethrin. If you can don’t stop at your clothes get your doss bag and mossie net done too. You’ll also need a personal mossie rep. There’s been lots written about Avon moisturiser and it actually does work, the only drawback is you smell like a tart’s knicker drawer. To my mind get something that’s Deet based, as it’s tried and tested.
Something I found also helped was to take garlic supplements. You can buy these from health food shops, after you’ve been taking them for a while it begins to come out through your pores and the mossies hate it. Don’t panic, you won’t end up smelling like an Italian waiter’s apron, it’s why Mediterranean types don’t get bitten much, it’s the garlic in their diet.
Also to bear (sic) in mind is that your warm sweaty bits are going to be even warmer and sweatier in the bush. This is the kind of environment that fungi love! First off make sure that you give all these bits a good scrub every day. Don’t use soap, it can dry skin out leading to other problems. Once you’re clean and dry give your groin and feet a good dusting with and anti-fungal powder like mycota or similar. Also try to avoid getting exercise claw, get that Norwegian formula hand cream and use it liberally, cracked skin is a great source of ingress for all sorts of nasties.
The bush being what it is, you will get lots of little cuts, scrapes and bites. The key thing here is to ensure that you keep them clean. Get some antiseptic wipes, again easily available from boots etc. Give the wound a good clean and then seal it with either synthskin, which you paint on, or the Elastoplast spray advertised on telly, which looks quite good.
Right, insect bites next. Don’t scratch them! Anthisan do a great product, it’s a little spray bottle, like a breath freshener, a couple of squirts from that and the itch just goes away. A tube of witch hazel gel is good for bites and stings too. Don’t pull leeches off, you’ll probably leave the mouth parts in your skin and bleed like a bugger! Drip mossie rep on them and they’ll just drop off. Burning them off with a lit cigarette is also really dumb, it looks macho but isn’t very effective.
Sorry to be so long winded but there’s no point in giving you a list of things to buy without explaining what they’re for. See more comprehensive list below: –
P20 sun cream (factor 50)
Deet based mossie rep
Anti-fungal foot powder
Canestan cream (for if the foot powder doesn’t do the job)
Norwegian formula hand cream
Anthisan bite relief spray
Witch hazel gel
Loratadine tablets (this is the active ingredient in Claratyn, cheaper to buy boots own, use this for any more extreme reactions to bites/stings)
Vaseline (use on eyebrows to make sweat run away from eyes)
Sudocrem (Big grey tub in the baby section, use for sweat rash especially soothing on the bum!)
Zinc Oxide tape (Get the issue version, the stuff for sale on the high street just isn’t up to the mark)
Tweezers (Get pointy medical ones, eyebrow ones are no good for getting hold of thorns etc)
Sterile cannula set (good to have your own stuff if you’re going somewhere outside the Brit med chain, and good for digging out thorns etc)
Alcohol hand gel (use before eating or preparing food)
Aloe Vera gel (great if you do get caught out by the sun look in the sun tan section)
Lucozade/PowerAde powder (or similar electrolytic to aid with hydration)
That should just about cover it, add any medicines you take regularly and of course any antimalarials etc.