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Leeches! Remove and Prevent

Updated on July 22, 2012
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Leeches is a kind of worm that mainly found in a fresh water environment or in an area which is wet or humid. Leeches appear more often near a river especially after rains. It has two suckers which located at each end of the body of the leech. Leeches normally hide on the ground, leaves and tree branches.

As leeches like heat, they like to bite heat area of a human body such as under arm, toe, buttock, hand and legs.

Leeches do not jump nor leap. They mainly crawl using their two suckers on both end of their body. Their body is stretchable and therefore can crawl rather fast and far on each crawl.

Leeches are blood suckers. They feed on blood from animals and also consume the whole small tiny animal which does not have backbone. Leeches are sensitive to heat and vibration and alert to attack the next victim when opportunity available. This explains why sometime people who walk in front of a jungle trekking will seldom get leeches companion.

When leeches attached to our skin, it will use its suckers to hold the position. Thereafter, it will use its jaws to bite on the skin and start sucking the blood. While its sucks the blood, leeches release a kind of anesthetic to prevent us from knowing or feel any itchiness.

Leeches use its mucus and suction to stay attached on the area and secretes an anti-clotting enzyme call Hirudin. Leeches stomach are highly expandable and can be expanded five times of it real body size. With leeches’ Hirudin enzyme, it can keep the blood in its stomach in liquid form for quite some time. For the same Hirudin enzyme, it also causes the blood keep bleeding for 10 minutes to few hours after the leech detached from the skin.

How to remove leeches?

If you are bitten by a leech, do not try to pull out immediately. The pull could pose two repercussions. Firstly, there are chances that the leech’s jaws are still attached and still remain in the wounds which could cause infection. Second, the process of pulling will cause the leech to release all its dirty blood (which it sucked earlier) into our wound which could have viruses or bacteria.

Some commonly used method to remove safely is using salt, insect repellent, medical oil or vinegar. But the excessive usage of this method could also cause the leech to detach too fast and thus release or vomit its dirty fluids from its body and causes infection too.

The proper method is to use fingernails to slowly break the suction of the leech. Locate the anterior end of the leech which is the narrow end of the leech. Use our fingernails or any sharp object to push along the suction between the skin and leech, the leech’s suction will be broken. Once the suction is broken, the leech will detach its jaws. Do the same on the posterior end and before the leech reattach or bite again, quickly flick it away.

Alternatively, you can just let the leech to complete its meal on your blood until it satisfied its appetite, and the leech will detach itself and fall off automatically.

Several ways to prevent leeches without killing it are as below:-

1. Tobacco socks

Leeches do not like tobacco smell. Buy some tobacco leaves and boils the tobacco leaves with hot water. Let the water cool down and soak our socks on the tobacco water for about an hour. Thereafter, dry the socks and wear it. With this, leeches will never want to crawl onto your shoe at all.

2. Leech socks

The most commercialized socks where it ties between your socks and pants so that leeches could not enter into your legs. When you see leeches crawling in between, you can get rid of them easily. But this could be cumbersome when you need to cross rivers.

3. Insect Repellent

There is one insect repellent named Mosi-Guard that selling mostly on pharmaceutical outlets is able to prevent or repel leeches from approaching. The spray type will be useful as it can spray on your socks whenever you need it. The effect could be similar to tobacco socks approach

4. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil can be used to repel leeches as the smell will scare away leeches. There are many oilmen and spray available in the market which contains eucalyptus oil. I had tried a Chin Chau Ko Ointment which contain 10% of Eucalyptus oil and proved to be effective in repelling leeches.

5. Stocking

There are saying that wearing a ladies stocking are effective to prevent leeches from crawling or biting as the material of the stocking naturally prevent the leeches to suck or crawl.

Although leeches can be a nuisance and causes bleeding non-stop at times, but it does not pose any human threat. Infection on wound can be the worst case scenario which could be easily treated if we do not remove the leech properly.

Traditionally, leeches also been used as one of the medical approach to cure patient via the method of bloodletting. Some research even says that leeches eat only dead cells of a human body and leave the good cell to grow thus providing a cheap way to heal wounds.

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    • profile image

      ash 3 years ago

      Thanks

      it helped me a lot.

    • profile image

      khelina 3 years ago

      I am suffering from pain,itching and swelling, leech bite me 3 days back I thought it will become ok but still swelling,pain and itching I need to visit doctor it is infection.

    • profile image

      happyyeo 6 years ago

      Good tips. Will share this article with my friends. Thanks, voted up.

    • GT Ooi profile image

      GT Ooi 6 years ago from Penang, Malaysia

      The positive side, leeches have became therapy use to treat skin disease.

    • klyyong profile image

      klyyong 6 years ago

      Good tips for those jungle trekking fans. Thanks.

    • doubleH profile image

      doubleH 6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for sharing

    • My Footprints profile image

      My Footprints 6 years ago from MY

      I hate those slimy leeches. That is the reason I am not such a fan of outdoorsy stuff. Even if I do go hiking, I will try to stay clear of those places that will potentially have these creepy crawlies. Anyway, good to know about leeches - those blood suckers.

    • beginners-dslr profile image

      beginners-dslr 6 years ago from Malaysia

      Thanks for the great article, it's indeed chocked full of info. It just reminds me that one of the preparation for future jungle trekking is to protect against leeches, by covering up and using insect repellent on clothing. Voted up!

    • fmhyudin profile image

      fmhyudin 6 years ago

      Good information but I would rather stay away from leeches.

      Prevention better then curing. Tq for the article.

    • s.wilson profile image

      s.wilson 6 years ago

      Good information regarding the removal of leeches! I didn't realize there were so many natural repellants.

    • henrygogoals profile image

      henrygogoals 6 years ago from Singapare

      Leech... I don't like it some much.

    • joriechew profile image

      joriechew 6 years ago

      Good information when preparing for tracking trips. Never knew ladies stocking is a preventive measures against leech. Have learned something here. Thanks.

    • Rehana Stormme profile image

      Rehana Stormme 6 years ago

      Thanks! I didn't know that Eucalyptus oil could repel leeches!

    • calvincho profile image
      Author

      calvincho 6 years ago from George Town

      First of all, identify the mouth of the leech which is the smaller end of the body. the bigger end is the tail which is also attaching. Use the finger to slice against the leech's mouth and your skin. With this, the suction will be broken and leech jaws should also automatically detach. Then immediately do the same to break the suction on the tale and it will fall off.

    • kikitingpg profile image

      kikitingpg 6 years ago from Singapore

      ok. this is an interesting topic. i wish to find out more details about "The proper method is to use fingernails to slowly break the suction of the leech. "