How To Treat Leech Bites

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How To Treat Leech Bites
Treatment / Management – Initial treatment should include removal of the leech or leeches, controlling blood loss, and preventing exposure to blood-borne pathogens. Various methods of leech removal have been utilized including salt, saline, vinegar, turpentine, alcohol, and heat.

  1. Chemical methods have also been used including cocaine, lidocaine, and topical anesthetic spray.
  2. Of these, saltwater has been shown to be effective in causing the leech to relax and release.
  3. Extra caution should be used when removing the leech as to not have reflux of contents back into the bite for risk of infection as well as increased bleeding.

Caution should be exercised to prevent the jaws from remaining in the wound for the risk of continuous bleeding. Leech removal often requires unique situational removal techniques based on the location of the leech. A 2-year-old was found to have an intrabdominal leech which had perforated her uterus, and it required exploratory laparotomy for removal.

  1. A case report discussed a 24-year-old male with a leech bite in the external ear canal near the tympanic membrane with bleeding from the ear.
  2. Lidocaine 2%, then hypertonic saline was placed into the ear without decreased movement of the leech.
  3. Next, the glycerin phenique was placed into the ear.
  4. The movement of the leech decreased, and the bleeding ceased after 4 hours.

After the bleeding had stopped, the leech was removed with alligator forceps. When trying to remove a leech from the vagina of a pediatric patient, normal saline flushed through a small feeding catheter has been reported with success. After removing the leech, the wound must be cleaned, and bleeding must be stopped.

  1. Betadine or topical antibiotic agents can be used to clean the wound.
  2. A hemostatic agent or bandage can be used in addition to a pressure dressing to help with hemostasis.
  3. Cauterization, local application of tranexamic acid, silver nitrate, suturing of wounds, and tampon use have all be described as methods for achieving hemostasis after a leech bite.

Case reports exist where blood product infusions have been required. Tranexamic acid has also been used to achieve hemostasis. Bacteria of the genus Aeromonas reside within the gut of the leech, and reports of infection after leech therapy have been reported.

How long do leech bites take to heal?

Depending on the injury, it can take 5 to 7 days for blood vessels to form or heal. Where do the leeches come from? The leeches used are medical grade leeches. They are a particular species of leech called Hirudo medicinalis, grown in a medical leech farm.

What is a natural remedy for a leech bite?

Leech Management So not surprisingly the leeches are out in force after rainone time I even dragged one to work that must of spent the night in the car! So I’ve done some research on what the suggested prevention’s and treatments are;

Wear women’s pantyhose, I think I’ll personally try the knee high trick! Apparently the men during the war used used this Dettol, Aeroguard and Scotchguard are all supposed to be repellents, as well as tobaccoleeches hate tobacco allegedly?! Salt is the go to trick to get them off, or many just suggest rip them off with your fingers which I do I have heard it’s better to use salt as they back out rather than being yanked out! Physical barriers seem to be tricky, tights, gaiters and gumboots are generally not that effective – they still manage to find a way in I find – especially through those shoelace holes! Raw honey seems to be a standout treatment, especially dabbed under a bandaid, soothing and an antiseptic. Tea tree oil relieves that insane itch that hangs around!

What’s your go to prevention and treatment strategies?! Photo Credit: Anna D’Accione Australian Museum : Leech Management

When should I worry about a leech bite?

Treating a leech bite – Once the leech is removed, some simple aftercare measures can help treat the bite and avoid any complications. “Wash the bite site with soap and water and apply pressure until bleeding ceases,” advises Hamish. You can also apply a cold pack to relieve any pain or swelling. You should seek medical attention if:

The bite becomes red, hot or infected A wound or ulcer develops You have an allergic reaction

How serious are leech bites?

Complications – Leeches are carriers of viruses and bacteria. HIV and Hepatitis B were isolated from live leeches pulled from fishermen in Africa. Viruses may remain in leeches for as long as 5 months. Studies have also shown that malaria is capable of replicating in the red blood cells that a leech ingests.

What happens if you don’t remove a leech properly?

Are leech bites dangerous? – Generally, no. Most leech bites result in a minor flesh wound and some bleeding. But so long as you have a first aid kit on hand to stem the flow of blood, you won’t suffer any long-term effects. They can bleed a lot, though.

  • In fact, because leeches release an anti-coagulant to prevent blood clotting and make it easier to feed, you can bleed for up to ten hours from a leech bite.
  • Unless you get hundreds of leeches on you all at once, you’re not about to bleed out from leeches.
  • And even the deepest of sleepers is going to notice hundreds of bites — sorry, scrapes — happening at the same time, despite the best efforts of the leeches and their anesthesia.

No, in reality, leech bites are not dangerous, but the danger comes from improper removal. Unlike humans, the digestive system of a leech does not sterilize its gut, and a squeezed or startled leech can regurgitate the contents of its gut into the wound as they are removed. Daniella Cortis/Getty Images

What are the side effects of a leech bite?

History and Physical – A detailed history needs to be obtained, including any recent exposure to fresh water. While most leech bites are external, leeches can attach internally, and patients will present with epistaxis, hematemesis, hemoptysis, vaginal bleeding, hemoptysis, otorrhagia, and rectal bleeding.

  1. When the leech bite is external, patients’ symptoms may include painless bleeding, bruising, itching, burning, irritation, and redness.
  2. Patients may present with recurrent epistaxis if they have a nasal leech infestation.
  3. A focused physical exam will be required depending on the area of concern.
  4. If there is a concern for a nasal leech infestation, examination with anterior rhinoscope is not sufficient, and inspection with an endoscope is usually necessary.

When there is the concern for vaginal leech infestation, a speculum exam is required. Depending on the age of the patient, this may need to be done under anesthesia. A rectal exam with a proctoscope may be indicated for a patient presenting with rectal bleeding in the setting of concern for a leech bite.

Can leech bites make you sick?

Are leeches dangerous? – That depends on how many leeches are feasting on you, where they are located, and how much you’ve pissed them off. Leeches typically feed for about 20 or 30 minutes before dropping off your body. Bleeding from a leech bite lasts 10 hours on average, but sometimes continues for days.

It can range anywhere from inconvenient all the way to medically severe,” Joslin says. In most cases, if you are healthy and get a single leech bite you’ll probably just have some bleeding. But if you are beset by many leeches at once, the consequences can be more serious. A man in Turkey once showed up in the emergency room with anemia and excessive bleeding from 130 leech bites,

The anticoagulants in the leeches’ saliva had impaired his blood’s ability to clot enough to be life threatening. Leeches can also spread disease. “Leeches don’t have an immune system that sterilizes their gut contents like we do,” Joslin says. “So if a leech has bacteria in its gut and it attaches to you and there’s any regurgitation of blood from their gut onto your wound, that can transmit infection.” A leech might puke up germ-filled blood if you try to remove it by squeezing, burning, or other violent means.

Medicinal leeches may pass on ailments like syphilis and erysipelas, a bacterial infection of the skin. “If you get wild-caught leeches, you don’t know what other animal or human that leech has attached to in the past and may have picked up some bacteria, virus, or parasites from,” Joslin says. Scientists have found HIV and hepatitis B viruses in wild leeches in Africa.

“It wasn’t a confirmed case of transmission, but if they have these viruses in their gut then it stands to reason that they could be transmitted,” Joslin says. And these bloodsuckers have another nefarious habit. Most of the time, leeches will fasten onto your exposed skin.

  1. But occasionally, a leech will pass through one of the body’s orifices and attach internally.
  2. Leeches have made their way into people’s eyes, ears, noses, throats, urethras, bladders, rectums, vaginas, and stomachs.
  3. And according to Kvist, this is no accident.
  4. When a leech does invade a person’s body, it usually belongs to the Praobdellidae family.

These leeches are known for feeding through mucous membranes. In other words: they want to be inside you. “The rest of the skin is much more unappealing to them,” Kvist says, “although they probably would feed on your leg, if they were starved.” A leech can stay in your body for days or weeks.

  1. There are a few clues that a leech might be inside you, depending on where it’s ended up.
  2. Unusual bleeding from the orifice in question is one.
  3. Leeches can also cause fever, vomiting, trouble urinating, and “a sensation of foreign body movement,” Joslin and his team write.
  4. If the leech is nestled in your throat, it can cause difficulty breathing, hoarseness, or voice changes.

“If you get a leech in a body cavity or on your eyeball or something like that, even one leech can cause a pretty big problem,” Joslin says.

What are the benefits of leech bite?

Overview Since the time of ancient Egypt, leeches have been used in medicine to treat nervous system abnormalities, dental problems, skin diseases, and infections. Today, they’re mostly used in plastic surgery and other microsurgery. This is because leeches secrete peptides and proteins that work to prevent blood clots.

  1. These secretions are also known as anticoagulants.
  2. This keeps blood flowing to wounds to help them heal.
  3. Currently, leech therapy is seeing a revival due to its simple and inexpensive means of preventing complications.
  4. Medicinal leeches have three jaws with tiny rows of teeth.
  5. They pierce a person’s skin with their teeth and insert anticoagulants through their saliva.

The leeches are then allowed to extract blood, for 20 to 45 minutes at a time, from the person undergoing treatment. This equates to a relatively small amount of blood, up to 15 milliliters per leech. Medicinal leeches most often come from Hungary or Sweden.

  1. There are several situations in which leech therapy may be used.
  2. People who may benefit include those who risk limb amputation due to the side effects of diabetes, those who have been diagnosed with heart disease, and those who are undergoing cosmetic surgery in which they risk the loss of some of their soft tissue.

The therapy has also been recommended to treat blood clots and varicose veins. People with anemia, blood clotting conditions, or compromised arteries are not candidates for leech therapy. Children under the age of 18 years old and women who are pregnant are also usually advised to avoid it.

During a session, live leeches attach themselves to the target area and draw blood. They release the proteins and peptides that thin blood and prevent clotting. This improves circulation and prevents tissue death. The leeches leave behind small, Y-shaped wounds that usually heal without leaving a scar.

Leeches are effective at increasing blood circulation and breaking up blood clots. It should be no surprise that they can be used to treat circulatory disorders and cardiovascular disease. Chemicals derived from leech saliva have been made into pharmaceutical drugs that can treat:

hypertension varicose veins hemorrhoids skin problemsarthritis

Clinical trials suggest that leech therapy is an appropriate treatment for the common joint disease osteoarthritis, The anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties in the leech’s saliva reduce pain and tenderness at the site of the affected joint.

Why is my leech bite itchy and swollen?

Highlights –

• Leech saliva contains hirudin (a thrombin inhibitor) and histamine. • Leech bites cause pruritis (itching) and purpura (visible hemorrhage into the skin). • Some Australian leeches can transmit trypanosomal infections. • Saturated salt solution, alcohol, or vinegar, may ease leech removal.

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Why won’t my leech bite stop itching?

Yes. In most patients, the leech bite sites will start to itch on the second day after treatment, and will then continue to itch for about 2–3 days. This is a good sign, as the itching is due to histamine release, and shows that healing is taking place at the site.

Do leeches leave a mark on you?

The bleeding edge – Depending on one’s point of view, Plucinski is either a modern-day witch doctor or an innovator at the bleeding edge of leech science. Either way, he continues to try new treatments. One of his newest is called the vampire facial, in which he applies leeches to suck blood from the belly. Then he squeezes the blood from the leeches into a foam cup, dabs it with a gloved finger and smears it on the patient’s face. The mixture of blood and leech enzymes helps slow the aging process, Plucinski said. “Leeches cannot turn back time,” he said. “But after a few applications, you begin to see the wrinkles become more faint.” Demand for blood facials spiked after 2013, when Kardashian received a similar procedure in an episode of her TV show, “Kourtney and Kim Take Miami.” Compared to leeches, Kardashian’s ordeal was genuinely medieval. Instead of leeches, her doctor used a hand-held device with nine needles to stab her repeatedly in the face. “Ow! That hurts so badly!” Kardashian said as the needles pounded her forehead. “Ow!” She might have preferred Plucinski’s method instead. Leech bites are painless. And while hirudology remains out of favor with most celebrities, leeches do leave behind marks of high status. Each leech has 270 teeth on three jaws, arranged in a triangle. When removed, they create a scar shaped like the badge of a Mercedes-Benz. Email: [email protected] : Leech man a fan of little bloodsuckers

How long does a leech stay on you?

Directions For Handling Medicinal Leeches –

  1. Leeches are ordered from pharmacy.
  2. Leeches are to be applied to the tissue that we want to treat. In most cases, this would be the skin of the inset free flap. However, this may be any skin that looks dusky after a surgery, even if it’s not a free flap. The OTO resident should “outline” with plastic drapes the area in which leeches are to be applied. The plastic drapes can be arranged to help “contain” the leeches within the area of concern.
  3. Patient is started on Levaquin.
  4. Ask the resident how many leeches are to be used per session. (Usually it’s just one, maybe two.)
  5. Ask the resident if you have any doubts about where the leech should be applied.
  6. Place the leech on this tissue. It will wiggle around a bit looking for a good spot. If it starts to leave the area that we want to treat, use your gloved hands as a wall to force it to stay in the right area. Placing a small amount of D5 on the desired area will encourage the leech to begin feeding.
  7. When it stops wiggling, it’s probably attached. Never squeeze an attached leech; it may vomit the Aeromonas that lives in its stomach which would increase the chance of wound infection.
  8. Examine the leech frequently (every 10 minutes or so) to make sure that it’s still in place. You can expect the leech to stay in place for at least 30 minutes.
  9. When the leech lets go, pick it up and place it in a jar of 95% ethanol. This will euthanize it. It is to be returned to pharmacy.
  10. You will see that the site where the leech was attached will ooze dark (venous) blood. Place moist gauze over it to absorb the blood. Wipe this spot every 15 minutes or so to see if fresh blood is still oozing. When it stops oozing, apply another leech.
  11. Don’t be surprised if the orders change a little, such as “apply leech q 2 H” as opposed to waiting for the draining to stop.
  12. Serial hematocrits, q8 hours, should be obtained on patients undergoing leech therapy. It is not unusual for repeated transfusions to be required in patients undergoing leech therapy.

What does salt do to leeches?

Download Article Download Article Leeches are typically water-dwelling invertebrates related to worms. They will feed by attaching themselves to a host and sucking its blood. If a leech attaches itself to your body, it can seem gross and be uncomfortable. However, if you follow the right steps for safely removing the leech, there is very little danger or cause for concern.

  1. 1 Try to detach the leech’s suckers. Locate the leech’s oral sucker on the anterior (thinner end). Place your finger or fingernail on the skin next to this, and gently slide it underneath. Push to the side to detach the leech. Repeat this step at the posterior end sucker, then flick the leech off of your body.
    • Push the leech away as you detach it, because it will try to reattach itself to your body.
    • Make sure to start with the thinner, anterior end, which is actually the leech’s “head.”
    • Dispose of the leech away from the water after you have detached it. You can pour salt on the leech to ensure it is killed, but do this only after you have safely removed it.
  2. 2 Wait for the leech to fall off. Once the leech has had enough blood, it should fall off on its own, typically after about twenty minutes. If you cannot remove the leech safely, you may have to leave it and wait until it stops feeding. While this can be unsettling, the leech should not cause you any pain or serious injury.
    • Dispose of the leech after it falls off. You can pour salt on the leech to ensure it is killed, but do this only after it detaches itself from your body.

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  3. 3 Stop any bleeding. Leeches have anticoagulant enzymes that cause blood to flow freely. If the bite area continues to bleed after you remove the leech (or after it falls off), apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or gauze until the bleeding stops.
  4. 4 Clean the wound to prevent infection. Leeches can leave a small wound where they were attached to your body. Clean this wound using warm water and a mild soap. Afterwards, apply an over-the-counter antibacterial cream and bandage. In the event that the wound becomes infected, see a doctor.
  5. 5 Do not try to simply rip the leech off. Leeches are very flexible and difficult to grasp, and even if you are successful at grabbing one and pulling it off your body, this may make things worse. In ripping it away, parts of the leech’s jaws may remain in your body, which can cause an infection.
  6. 6 Do not try to burn or poison the leech to cause it to detach. Many traditional remedies for removing leeches involve putting a match or flame to the leech’s body, or pouring salt, alcohol, vinegar, or other things on the leech. While this will likely cause the leech to detach itself from your body, it may regurgitate the contents of its stomach back into the bite wound as it detaches. This can cause an infection.
  7. 7 See a doctor if necessary. If leeches are attached to sensitive areas, such as on your eye, or in an orifice such as your nasal cavity, vagina, or penis, you should see a doctor for professional help. Doctors are trained in the use of special techniques and equipment to remove leeches, and will be able to treat any infections or complications that arise.
    • You should also see a doctor if, after removing a leech on your own, you notice signs of infection, irritation, or other unusual symptoms.
    • Signs of infection can include redness, swelling, or pus at the site of the wound, as well as general pain and fever.
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  1. 1 Set a trap. Take a metal can with a reclosable lid, such as a large coffee can, and punch small holes in this lid. Put raw meat inside the can, close the lid, and tie a string around the can. Place this in shallow parts of water where you suspect leeches live, and they will be attracted to and enter the can. You can then pull the can out of the water and dispose of the leeches.
    • Leeches are most active during warm months. Lay your trap, check it daily during warm periods, and dispose of any caught leeches. Repeat this until few or no leeches appear in the trap.
    • The exact size of the holes you should punch in the can lid will depend on the species of leech. If no leeches are being caught in your trap, try a larger or smaller hole size until it works.
  2. 2 Attract ducks to the leech-infested area. Ducks may feed on leeches, which can help to keep their populations low. If you attract ducks using duck feed, however, this can increase levels of phosphorus in water and contribute to algae growth. Species of duck known to consume leeches include:
    • Ring-necked duck (Aythya collars)
    • Wood duck (Aix sponsa)
    • Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata)
  3. 3 Maintain populations of bluegill and largemouth bass fish. These fish are natural predators of leeches and will help to control their population. This method will only work for enclosed, private waters like ponds.
  4. 4 Control aquatic vegetation and debris. An overabundance of vegetation and organic debris in ponds and lakes is thought to contribute to the growth of leech populations. If possible, keep vegetation to about ten percent of a pond’s surface area. Remove or control any excess vegetation to help combat leech infestation. Methods include:
    • Minimizing the feeding of fish and ducks. Their waste provides nutrients that increase the growth of aquatic vegetation.
    • Manually removing vegetation from the water. It is best to remove the whole plant, roots and all. Make sure to discard the plants out of the water so that the debris does not nourish future plant growth.
    • Dredging or deepening the body of water. The greater depth will make it harder for plants to root.
    • Lowering the water level. Shallower water during cold and freezing times will make it more difficult for plants to establish.
    • Lining the bottom of the body of water. Plastic sheeting or mineral layers at the bottom of the water can discourage aquatic vegetation.
    • Introducing herbivores. A wide variety of ducks, geese, turtles, insects, snails, crayfish, and fish will eat aquatic vegetation and therefore reduce its growth. The Chinese grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) is thought to be a particularly good choice for this method.
    • Using aquatic herbicides. Common choices include: Chelated Copper Compounds, Fluridone (Sonar), 2,4-D, Glyphosate (Rodeo, Pondmaster), Diquat, and Endothall (Aquathol, Hydrothol). These may have a range of side effects, including fish kills. They may also need to be applied over and over again, because the vegetation that is killed decomposes in the water and contributes to future vegetation growth.
    • Carefully follow all directions provided with herbicides, and contact your local county extension agent before introducing any species that may be considered invasive.
  5. 5 Use chemical control methods. Copper sulfate pentahydrate is used to control leech populations. The recommended dose is 5 ppm. This approach, however, will kill everything in the water, including fish and other creatures. Thus, this method should be used only in enclosed, fish-less waters.
    • Copper sulfate pentahydrate is toxic and must be handled properly. Follow all safety and usage guidelines provided with the product.
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Add New Question

  • Question How to kill the leech inside my nose? If the leech is inside your nose, go to the doctor immediately. Leeches disconnect when they are full of blood, but if they are in a confined space, they may crawl farther up instead of out. If the leech is not inside the nose entirely, don’t try to remove it yourself. You won’t get a clear angle. Don’t leave the leech to fall off unattended.
  • Question What does salt do to the leech? Salt absorbs water from them, since their skin allows water passage freely. Salt kills them by dehydration.
  • Question How fast does salt kill leeches? Slowly, like any poison. The leech dies slowly within a few minutes.

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  • There are between 700 and 1000 species of leeches worldwide. Most live in water, though some live on land.
  • Leeches, though they can cause discomfort, are not known to pass diseases to humans. In fact, they were traditionally used medicinally. Occasionally, leeches and leech byproducts are still used medicinally.
  • You can prevent leeches from attaching to your body by covering up exposed areas of skin when you are in waters that you suspect may be infested with leeches.

Show More Tips Thanks for submitting a tip for review! Advertisement Article Summary X To kill leeches, pour salt over them after removing them from your skin. If you want to get rid of leeches in your yard or pond, make a trap by putting a piece of raw meat in a can with a sealable lid, and punching holes in the lid.

Is it normal for leech bite to swell?

Leeches – Leeches cause unwarranted fear in many people. When they latch onto skin, their bite is almost painless. They introduce an anticoagulant so that they can feed on the victim’s blood. When the leech becomes grossly swollen it falls off. The symptoms from leech bite that may warrant medical attention are infected bite site and leech allergy.

Does salt remove leeches?

Leeches live in moist undergrowth and grasses as well as freshwater areas. They attach themselves to warm-blooded animals, including humans, and can expand to 10 times their normal size as the fill themselves up on blood. If you find a leech on your body, don’t panic, since they don’t spread disease or cause pain.

  1. 1 Locate its head and sucker. The head is the narrower part of the leech, and the sucker where it attaches to your skin. If the leech is located on one of your arms, legs, your torso, or another easily accessible area, you should be able to remove it yourself. Otherwise, you’ll need someone else to help you take it off.
    • If you find one leech, you should check your entire body to see if there are more. Leeches inject an anesthetic into your skin when they sink their teeth in, so their bites are painless. You may not be able to feel the presence of other leeches elsewhere on your body.
    • Remember that leeches aren’t poisonous and they don’t carry diseases, so don’t panic when you find one. Leeches are usually quite easy to remove and won’t cause any long-term harm.
  2. 2 Slide your fingernail under the sucker. Use one hand to gently pull the skin near the sucker taught, then place your other hand next to the leech and slide one of your fingernails underneath the sucker. The leech will immediately begin attempting to reattach itself, so flick it off right away.
    • Do not yank off the leech, since this will leave its sucker attached to your body.
    • If you’re squeamish about using your fingernail to remove the leech, you can use the edge of a credit card, a sturdy piece of paper or any other thin object instead.
  3. 3 Treat the open wound. When leeches latch on, they inject an anticoagulant to prevent the blood from clotting before they can get their fill. When you remove a leech, it might bleed for several hours or even days before the anticoagulant leaves your system.
    • Since the bleeding might take a while to stop, you should change the bandage regularly.
    • It’s important to treat the area as you would any open wound, especially if you’re hiking around in a jungle. Open wounds are more susceptible to getting infected in jungle environments.
    • Expect the wound to itch while it heals.
  4. 4 Consider letting leeches fill up and drop off. If you can stand it, an easy way to get rid of a leech is by letting it drop off on its own. It takes around 20 minutes for a leech to fill up, and when it’s done feeding it will fall off your skin. Leeches don’t take enough blood for blood loss to be a worry here, and since they don’t spread disease, there’s really no harm in letting them fall of without intervening.
    • The practice of letting leeches feed on human blood for medical purposes has been done for thousands of years, and “leech therapy” continues to be medically important. The FDA has approved the use of leeches to help with circulation problems and to aid in tissue reattachment
  5. 5 Avoid removing leaches by any other means. You might have heard that you can remove a leech by pouring salt on it, burning it, spraying it with repellant or drowning it in shampoo. While these techniques might cause the leech to release its grip and fall off, it won’t do so before vomiting back into the wound. This can lead to bad infections, so stick to the healthier practice of simply using a fingernail or other straightedge to get under the sucker.
  1. 1 See how deeply the leech has burrowed. Sometimes leeches find their way into orifices, like the nostrils, ear canals and mouth. This is especially common when you’re swimming among leeches. When this happens, it can be difficult to reach the sucker and use the simple leech removal method. Do your best to remove it the easy way before trying alternative methods.
    • See if someone can help you slide something under the sucker. Be very careful not to poke yourself, though. Do not use this method if you can’t see the sucker.
    • You can try to let the leech finish sucking and fall off, but if it’s inside a tiny space it might get too big and cause problems.
  2. 2 Use alcohol if it’s in your mouth. If the leech has attached itself to the inside of your mouth, you might be able to cause it to fall off by rinsing your mouth with vodka or another strong alcohol. Rinse it around your mouth for about 30 seconds, then spit. Check to see if the leech is gone.
    • If you don’t have alcohol on hand, hydrogen peroxide may also work.
    • If the leech is still there after you spit, and doesn’t fall off on its own, you need to seek medical attention.
  3. 3 Puncture the leech if it’s getting too big. If you’re in a remote area and don’t have immediate access to a doctor, you might need to puncture the leech. Hopefully you will have been able to remove it via another method, but if it’s in a really tricky place, like your nostril, you might need to pop the leech before it obstructs your breathing.
    • Remove the leech’s body and immediately wash the area.
    • If signs of infection occur, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  4. 4 Get medical attention if it can’t be removed. If you have a leech far up your nose, in your ear canal or in another place that’s impossible to reach, go to the doctor to get it removed. The doctor will be able to use instruments to remove the leech without hurting you.
  5. 5 Get treated immediately if you show signs of a leech allergy. Few people are allergic to leeches, but it does happen. If you experience dizziness, a rash, shortness of breath or swelling, take an antihistamine (such as Benadryl) and seek medical attention right away.
  1. 1 Be wary when you’re in areas known for having leeches. Land leeches are common in the jungles of Africa and Asia, and they’re also found in freshwater lakes and ponds across the world. If you’re planning a trip to a place known for having leeches, bring the right gear with you to minimize the chances that you’ll get bitten.
    • Land leeches tend to live in muddy and leafy areas in the jungle. If you stand in one place long enough, they’ll start crawling toward you. Try to avoid touching trees and plants, and check yourself often for leeches.
    • Water leeches are attracted to movement, so splashing around and swimming might put you at greater risk.
  2. 2 Wear long sleeves and pants. Leeches are attracted to the exposed skin of warm-blooded animals. Wearing long sleeves and pants will protect you from getting bitten, although you’ll probably find leeches trying to get through the fabric. If you’re especially concerned about getting bitten, wear gloves and a head covering so that no skin is left exposed.
    • Wear close-toed shoes instead of sandals.
    • If you’re planning a longer jungle expedition, it’s worth investing in a pair of leech-proof socks.
  3. 3 Use insect repellent. While this isn’t a foolproof measure for avoiding leeches, it’ll prevent them from piling on. Spray your skin and clothes with a standard insect repellent, and reapply it every few hours while you’re in a leech-infested area. Here are a few other tricks you can try to repel them:
    • Put loose tobacco in your socks. It’s said that leeches don’t like the smell.
    • Rub soap or detergent on your hands and clothes.

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  • Question Can I slap off a leech? No. It may cause the leech to vomit blood into your body which could pose serious issues.
  • Question Can the leeches get through fabric? Leeches have difficulty attaching through any thick layer of skin or fabric, but it is possible for them to chew their way through loose weave or very thin fabrics.
  • Question Are you supposed to pull the leech off? No, you should never pull the leech off. If you do, you might rip your skin because its teeth are stuck in your skin.

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  • To prevent leeches from latching on in the first place, wear closed in shoes and higher socks. Also insect repellent on your body will prevent them from ‘smelling’ that you are near by, so they will be less likely to latch on.
  • Check your feet and legs or any other part of your body that may have come into possible leech territory, so that you can identify them before they suck too much blood.
  • Leeches die when covered in salt, or wrapped into a tightly coiled ball of tissues. The salt and dry environment of the tissues soaks up the leeches moisture, causing them to therefore shrivel. But this may cause them to vomit blood onto your wound, which can severely increase your risk of infection, which can be fatal.

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  • Leeches will also attach themselves to outside household pets such as dogs and cats. Low to the ground animals may also get a leech in their eye. If this happens, DO NOT pull it off or rub at it. DO NOT put salt on it. Wait till it drops off. The animal’s eye will be swollen for a day or two, but otherwise it should be okay. If not, see a vet.
  • Don’t use shampoo, salt or insect repellent on the leech while it is attached to our body, as the leech might regurgitate back into the open skin and cause infection.
  • Don’t pull or tug at the leech.
  • If you suffer from many leeches that are also very large, see a doctor.
  • Fingernail, credit card, piece of paper, or something else thin and stiff
  • Paper towel
  • Insect Repellent
  • Closed shoes and socks

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Why is my leech bite still bleeding?

Prolonged venous bleeding due to traditional treatment with leech bite: a case report 1 Fatih Sultan Mehmet Training And Research Hospital, Department of General Surgery, Atasehir, Istanbul, Turkey Find articles by 1 Fatih Sultan Mehmet Training And Research Hospital, Department of General Surgery, Atasehir, Istanbul, Turkey Find articles by 1 Fatih Sultan Mehmet Training And Research Hospital, Department of General Surgery, Atasehir, Istanbul, Turkey Find articles by 1 Fatih Sultan Mehmet Training And Research Hospital, Department of General Surgery, Atasehir, Istanbul, Turkey Find articles by 1 Fatih Sultan Mehmet Training And Research Hospital, Department of General Surgery, Atasehir, Istanbul, Turkey Find articles by The medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis, has been used in the treatment of many diseases for thousands of years.

  1. In Turkey, it is used most commonly in the management of venous diseases of lower extremities.
  2. A 25-year-old Turkish woman presented to our emergency room with bleeding from her left leg.
  3. She had been treated for varicose veins in her lower extremities with leeches about 24 hours before admission to the emergency room.

The bleeding was controlled by applying pressure with sterile gauze upon the wound, and she was discharged. She returned after four hours having started bleeding again. Hemostasis was achieved by vein ligation under local anesthesia. Leech bite should be evaluated as a special injury.

Prolonged bleeding can be seen after leech bites. In such cases, hemostasis either with local pressure or ligation of the bleeding vessel is mandatory. Leeches are bloodsucking worms usually found in places with fresh water. There are two species of therapeutic leeches, Hirudo medicinalis (European medical leech) and Hirudo michaelseni.H.

medicinalis is about 10 cm in length and 2 g in weight. They have been used for the treatment of many diseases as far back as 2,500 years ago. Headaches, hemorrhoids, and mental illness are some of the disorders that have been treated with leeches. Treatment with leeches is referred to as hirudotheraphy in modern medicine.

Today, medicinal leech therapy is mainly used in plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery for tissue flap salvage, Medicinal leech therapy in Turkey is a traditional treatment for venous disorders of the lower extremities. Most patients get symptomatic relief with this treatment. Leeches are placed onto the lower extremities and they suck the accumulated blood from the dilated veins.

Here, we report the case of a patient with prolonged bleeding after medicinal leech bites. We were able to control the bleeding in our patient by ligation of the punctured, dilated veins with an operation under local anesthesia. We believe that this is the first case report in the English literature concerning prolonged bleeding after leech bite in the treatment of venous disease of the lower extremities.

  1. A 25-year-old Turkish woman presented to the emergency department with bleeding from her left leg.
  2. She had been treated with leeches for varicose veins in her lower extremities about 24 hours prior to her admission.
  3. The leeches had stayed in place for three to four hours in the posterior region of her legs.

Her medical history was otherwise unremarkable. There was no bleeding diathesis and she was not taking any medication. On physical examination, she was a healthy woman with no findings of distress. Her vital signs were normal. There was oozing bleeding from her left leg.

  • Punctured skin and bleeding, dilated veins were detected (Figure ).
  • There was no ecchymosis, swelling, or erythema.
  • The bleeding was controlled by compression applied with sterile gauze, and our patient was subsequently discharged.
  • Bleeding after leech bite,
  • After four hours, our patient was again admitted to our emergency department with recurrent bleeding.

The wound was cleaned with antiseptic solution. On physical examination, there were dilated veins with bleeding. The bleeding was active. Her varicose veins were explored under local anesthesia. The veins punctured by leech bite were dissected by operation.

They were ligated with 4/0 Vicril Rapide sutures (Figure ). After completing hemostasis, the skin was sutured with 3/0 prolene. Our patient was examined seven days after her operation. The wound was clear without any complication.H. medicinalis has two suckers, one in its anterior and one in its posterior region.

They usually feed via the anterior suckers in a process that lasts about 20 to 40 minutes. They can suck 10-15 ml of blood and may increase their body size eight to 11 times. Leeches have different chemical agents within their bodies that are released when salivating (Table ).

  1. Hirudin is a proteolytic inhibitor that has an antagonistic effect to thrombin.
  2. The major action of thrombin is the conversion of fibrinogen into fibrin, which is a critical event in the coagulation process.
  3. Hirudin, by its inhibitory effect, causes a decrease in platelet aggregation.
  4. It is thought that the prolongation of bleeding after leech bite is mainly due to hirudin.

Histamine-like substance is another protein that is found in the salivary cells of leeches. It causes vasodilation of the blood vessels. It increases the amount of blood sucked by a leech. Another enzyme, hyaluronidase, facilitates the breakdown of connective tissue by disturbing hyaluronic acid.

  1. Beside these chemical agents, Munro et al.
  2. Described another substance found in the saliva of leeches called calin.
  3. It has a powerful action as an anticoagulant and mainly inhibits platelet aggregation.
  4. The persistent bleeding is likely the effect of the enzymes found in the saliva of leeches.
  5. Sustained bleeding may persist as long as seven days.

Our patient had uncontrolled bleeding for about 18 hours. Chemical substances produced by leeches

Substance Effect
Hirudin Anti-thrombotic effect
Histamine-like substance Vasodilation
Hyaluronidase Breakdown of connective tissue.

Leeches are commonly used in Turkey in medical treatment of venous congestion of the lower extremities. A diagnosis of leech bite can be made easily. Patients usually have a history of medicinal leech therapy. If a leech is found at the bite site, it can be removed with the use of table salt, vinegar or lignocaine solution.

  • Bleeding after leech bite in different parts of the body has been reported,
  • Leech bite may be associated with morbidity such as serious bleeding and skin infection.
  • Anemia can often be seen with leech infestation.
  • Erysipelas and skin abscess with Mycobacterium marinum may also be seen in patients with leech bite.

Skin wounds may heal with scar formation. Aeromonas hydrophila is a bacterium that can live with leeches symbiotically. It can cause infection after leech bite. Antibiotic prophylaxis in medicinal leech treatment may be recommended. Although it is rare, leech bite may also cause death,

Prolonged bleeding after leech bite should be treated seriously. Some bleeding may require transfusion due to loss of large amounts of blood. There are several methods to treat prolonged bleeding after leech bite. Pressure with sterile gauze on the wound is the simplest method. In cases of sustained bleeding, sterile gauze soaked in a thrombin solution can be applied.

Desmopressin (1-deamino-8- D -arginine vasopressin; DDAVP) has been reported as an effective agent in controlling bleeding in rats after hirudin infusion, Our patient was treated by applying pressure with sterile gauze upon the wound on her first admission.

  • The bleeding stopped.
  • The patient was admitted again to the emergency room with recurrent bleeding after four hours.
  • Hemostasis was achieved by vein ligation under local anesthesia.
  • Leech bite can cause prolonged bleeding.
  • It may even result in death due to blood loss.
  • Leech bite should be evaluated as a special injury with the risk of prolonged bleeding.

Written informed consent was obtained from the patient for publication of this case report and any accompanying images. A copy of the written consent is available for review by the Editor-in-Chief of this journal. The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Conforti ML, Connor NP, Heisey DM, Hartig GK. Evaluation of performance characteristics of the medicinal leech ( Hirudo medicinalis ) for the treatment of venous congestion. Plast Reconstr Surg.2002; 109 :228–235. doi: 10.1097/00006534-200201000-00034. Munro R, Jones CP, Sawyer RT. Calin – a platelet adhesion inhibitor from the saliva of the medicinal leech. Blood Coagul Fibrinol.1991; 2 :179–184. doi: 10.1097/00001721-199102000-00027. Kruger C, Malleyeck I, Olsen OH. Aquatic leech infestation: a rare cause of severe anemia in an adolescent Tanzanian girl. Eur J Pediatr.2004; 163 :297–299. doi: 10.1007/s00431-004-1422-0. Bergua A, Vizmanas F, Monzon FJ, Blasco RM. Unavoidable epistaxis in the nasal infection of leeches. Acta Otorrinolaringol Esp.1993; 44 :391–393. Raj SM, Radzi M, Tee MH. Severe rectal bleeding due to leech bite. Am J Gastroenterol.2000; 95 :1607. Hamid MS, Mohd Nar GR. Severe urological complication of leech bite in the tropics. Br J Urol.1996; 77 :164–165. Cundoll DB, Whitehead SM, Hechtel FO. Severe anaemia and death due to pharyngeal leech Myxobdella africana, Trans R SOC Trop Med Hyg.1986; 80 :940–944. doi: 10.1016/0035-9203(86)90265-8. Bove CM, Casey B, Marder VJ. DDAVP reduces bleeding during continued hirudin administration in the rabbit. Thromb Haemost.1996; 75 :471–475.

Articles from Journal of Medical Case Reports are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central : Prolonged venous bleeding due to traditional treatment with leech bite: a case report

Why can’t you rip leeches off?

6) How can I remove a leech that has already started feeding? – Firstly – what you shouldn’t do – don’t just rip it off. If the mouth parts of the leech are firmly attached you may leave them behind in the wound, thereby increasing the risk of the wound becoming infected.

Secondly – what isn’t recommended – it’s quite easy to remove a leech by applying a flame, a lit cigarette, salt, soap or a chemical such as alcohol, vinegar, lemon juice or insect repellent. The leech will detach itself quite quickly but it’s also likely to regurgitate some of the contents of its stomach into the wound in its haste, thereby increasing the risk of the wound becoming infected.

Thirdly – the recommended technique : – identify the oral sucker at the anterior (mouth end) of the leech – generally this is the thinner end of the leech – put your finger or some other flat, blunt object on the skin adjacent to the oral sucker and then slide it under the sucker to break the seal, at which point the leech will detach its jaws – repeat the process with the sucker at the posterior (rear end) of the leech – generally this is the thicker, bloated end of the leech.

What is the first aid for a leech?

Leech First Aid Management: –

  1. Follow DRSABCD
  2. Do NOT pull the leech off
  3. Apply salt or a hot object such as an extinguished hot match
  4. Treat the wound as a bleeding injury
  5. Apply pressure to the wound to restrict the flow of blood with a pad and dressing
  6. Maintain pressure on the pad/dressing with a roller bandage

Do leech bites leave a scar?

DISCUSSION – The medicinal leech has been used for medical purposes since at least 200 bc and is still used in Asia and Africa.1– 3 A recent clinical study has reported that leech therapy may be an effective treatment for rapid reduction of pain associated with knee osteoarthritis.2 Our patient used leeches for alleviating pain and placed them at painful periarticular sites of the knee.H.

medicinalis has an approximately 10 cm long, cylindrical body with two suckers: one present anteriorly on the head, and the other on the posterior end. The mouth lies in the anterior sucker and has three jaws with teeth well designed for biting. The leech can ingest blood almost ten times its own weight (5–15 ml).1, 3 Leech bites are painless and results in a triradiate wound which remains open for a long time and heals slowly 1, 3 (fig 1).

The commonest complication of leech application is oozing, as was the case in our patient. The amount and duration of bleeding vary according to the area bitten, with bleeding from the vagina, rectum, urinary bladder, and pharynx having been reported.1, 3, 4 Prolonged haemorrhage may result in anaemia, and deaths from excessive exsanguination have been reported.3 In our patient, the bleeding continued for three hours and persisted intermittently for the next 18 hours, although he did not have any haematological problems.

  • The mean duration of bleeding from leech bite wounds in one report was 10 hours (range 6.5–23).5 Figure 1  Leech bites in our patient resulted in a triradiate wound (consistent with reports in literature 1, 3 ).
  • The saliva of the leech contains hirudin, which inhibits thrombin in the clotting process, and histamine-like substances which may cause continuous bleeding by preventing closure of capillaries.6 Munro et al reported that hirudin has only a transient antithrombin effect, lasting only about 15 minutes in humans.

The prolonged duration of bleeding can be attributed to collagen–platelet interaction, along with possible modifications of the vascular walls by proteases or other enzymes secreted by the leech during feeding.5 Contamination with pathogenic microorganisms may result in erysipelas and submucosal abscesses.1, 3 Leech application can also cause infection with Mycobacterium marinum, a parasitic bacteria usually hosted by salt water fish, or with Aeromonas hydrophilia, which leeches carry in their gut.7 As a medicinal leech bite heals, ecchymosis and scarring are not uncommon sequelae.1 As regards treatment, if the leech is still in place, it should be removed with the help of table salt, a saline solution, or vinegar.

  • It should not be forcibly removed because its jaws may remain in the wound, causing infection.1 After removing the leech, pressure should be applied to the wound.
  • If the bleeding persists, sterile gauze soaked in thrombin solution may be applied.
  • After control of bleeding, the wound should be rechecked for signs of infection.1 In our patient, the leech had detached before arrival to the ED, and we had no thrombin solution to apply with the bandages.

There was intermittent bleeding for an additional 18 hours. Leeches application in the evening or night should be avoided because bleeding cannot be noticed during sleep. Patients with bleeding disorders should not apply leeches to avoid prolonged bleeding.

Why do leech bites itch for so long?

Yes. In most patients, the leech bite sites will start to itch on the second day after treatment, and will then continue to itch for about 2–3 days. This is a good sign, as the itching is due to histamine release, and shows that healing is taking place at the site.

Do leeches leave a mark on you?

The bleeding edge – Depending on one’s point of view, Plucinski is either a modern-day witch doctor or an innovator at the bleeding edge of leech science. Either way, he continues to try new treatments. One of his newest is called the vampire facial, in which he applies leeches to suck blood from the belly. Then he squeezes the blood from the leeches into a foam cup, dabs it with a gloved finger and smears it on the patient’s face. The mixture of blood and leech enzymes helps slow the aging process, Plucinski said. “Leeches cannot turn back time,” he said. “But after a few applications, you begin to see the wrinkles become more faint.” Demand for blood facials spiked after 2013, when Kardashian received a similar procedure in an episode of her TV show, “Kourtney and Kim Take Miami.” Compared to leeches, Kardashian’s ordeal was genuinely medieval. Instead of leeches, her doctor used a hand-held device with nine needles to stab her repeatedly in the face. “Ow! That hurts so badly!” Kardashian said as the needles pounded her forehead. “Ow!” She might have preferred Plucinski’s method instead. Leech bites are painless. And while hirudology remains out of favor with most celebrities, leeches do leave behind marks of high status. Each leech has 270 teeth on three jaws, arranged in a triangle. When removed, they create a scar shaped like the badge of a Mercedes-Benz. Email: [email protected] : Leech man a fan of little bloodsuckers

Why is my leech bite itchy and swollen?

Highlights –

• Leech saliva contains hirudin (a thrombin inhibitor) and histamine. • Leech bites cause pruritis (itching) and purpura (visible hemorrhage into the skin). • Some Australian leeches can transmit trypanosomal infections. • Saturated salt solution, alcohol, or vinegar, may ease leech removal.