leeches and Borneo
Hi, i know the idea of leeches is offputting to many people, but they really aren’t a huge problem if you know how to deal with them.
Leeches in tropical areas like Borneo live in vegetation and low lying leaves. They are particularly active after rainfall and humid conditions, so be aware if you brush past any leaves as you walk, as they can drop off the leaves onto your skin.
The best way to deal with them is to cover up. Wear boots, tuck your long pants into them and wear gaiters if you have them. Wear a long t shirt or shirt and tuck it into your waist band. wear insect repellent too.
If you do get bitten dont worry, they are not poisonous and carry no disease, but the wounds can be annoyingly itchy and can bleed a lot because they inject an anticoagulant into you when they bite. Simply use the blade of a knife or your fingernail and slide it under the anterior sucker to push the sucker sideways, then flick it off. Never attempt to burn, pull or squeeze a leech to get it off you.
If you get bitten, clean it thoroughly, wounds can get infected quickly in tropical envioronments. Antiseptic cream or wipes are fine. If it itches then dont scratch it, use an antihistamine cream.
Hope this helps?
Hello – I found vaseline really useful on the few leech bites I suffered in Borneo. Once the little blighter has been removed, just apply a dab – it provides a seal which prevents excessive bleeding.
We were in Borneo recently and encountered leeches – helps if you use heavy duty DEET (Bushmans 80%) around your ankles where your boots stop and just generally try to cover up. I’ve also heard that they don’t like salt and will drop off if some is put on them but not sure how true that is as we never tried it. Other than that, try not to think about them!
Interestingly, on a night jungle walk, the only person who found a leech on him was the guide who was also the only person wearing leech socks.
That’s funny! Have decided I will just think of them as a photo/blog/article opportunity … booked my tickets today so will be there late June for 2 months.
Forgot to say – be careful when trying to remove them as it’s common to separate the body from their head which then gets stuck in your skin and can become infected. Try the salt remedy – I’d be interested to know if it works. Also take iodine based antiseptic with you – much better for stopping infections than normal Savlon and the other older types.
Do enjoy your holiday and don’t worry too much about leeches. We saw far less than we anticipated and I’m only jealous that you will soon be doing jungle night treks and other things that we absolutely adored.