how-to-treat-reef-cuts

How To Treat Reef Cuts… [Properly]

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Regardless of your experience in or out of the water while surfing in Indonesia, reef related injuries are not a matter of if…but when!

 

Reef cuts and infections are a big deal…
The coral reefs throughout Indonesia contain unusual nasty bacteria and toxins.
Foreign debris and coral spores embed themselves in the skin and tissue, acting as a source of infection, increasing pain, inflammation and prevent your wound from healing.

It’s a fact that reef cuts are one of the most difficult types of wounds to heal. Even the smallest, harmless-appearing reef cut or rash has a high chance of developing into a serious infection if not treated properly.
We see it time and time again, surfers that are not properly prepared with reef cuts left ill-treated or in some instances untreated. Leading to an infection that not only puts a damper on your surf trip but can threaten your life.

Considering your most common injury is going to be a reef cut or laceration, you have to be prepared for treating, cleaning, and bandaging basic wounds with the right kind of first aid kit when surfing reefs.

What You’re Going To Need…

Irrigation Syringe

An irrigation syringe is a lightweight and an easy tool to carry for the first step in disinfecting any wound.

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Bottled Water

Tap water in Indonesia is not clean and the ocean water at this temperature harbours a lot of bacteria so use bottled water to first irrigate your wound.

Soap Wipes

Used to clean around the wound.

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Isopropyl Alcohol Wipes

To sterilise tweezers, scissors, the area around the wound and assisting adhesive bandages to make better contact with the skin.

High Precision Surgical Tweezers

When you are treating wounds yourself you need all the help you can get and high precision tweezers with an elbow are the top of the line when it comes to easily and effectively removing foreign debris from your wounds. DON’T get stuck with plastic tweezers or cheap tweezers that you can’t get an accurate pinch from, you’ll cause yourself more pain and become extremely frustrated.

Scissors

Quality pair of stainless steel scissors to cut and shape adhesive tapes and bandages.

Razor

A razor enables you to shave the hair around the wound and keep the area clean assisting adhesive bandages to make better contact with the skin.

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Wound Cleaning Sponge

Used to clean the wound thoroughly one last time to ensure any coral dust/spores are removed decreasing the likelihood of infection and delays in the healing process.

Saline Solution

Mimics your body’s internal pH and is used in the final step when irrigating the wound to provide the cleanest environment possible.

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Triple Antibiotic Ointment

An effective formula that contains three active antibiotic ingredients to stop the growth of bacteria, prevent infection and reduce pain and inflammation. WARNING; commonly used topical antiseptics (lime, hydrogen peroxide, iodine and alcohol) actually damage the tissue and irritates the wound delaying the healing process. 

Hemostatic Gauze

This revolutionary cellulose-based material accelerates the blood clotting process and is a must-have item in every surfing first aid kit. When the gauze comes in contact with blood it quickly transforms into a stiff gel, which fills wound voids, seals capillary ends and activates the clotting system saving you days or weeks of recovery time. 

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Adhesive Stretch Dressing

Wide area adhesive dressing that is especially suitable for use on frequently mobile and highly contoured parts of the body where most reef cuts occur. It provides a bacterial barrier that is permeable to air and water vapour with an excellent long term skin/wound friendly adhesion. It can be applied directly over the top of the wound with or without gauze and minimises any disturbances of blood circulation to speed up the healing process of reef cuts. Adhesive stretch dressings are some what the swiass army knife of wound dressings when it comes to reef cuts.

How To Treat a Reef Cut…

01

Irrigate

You’re first step for any kind of cut, reef or otherwise, is to irrigate, loosening and removing any foriegn debris from the wound. Since the tap water in Indonesia is not clean use bottled water to first irrigate your wound flushing out as much foreign debris as you can. Save the saline solution for last unless you have a large supply of it.

Using an irrigation syringe irrigate the wound further for an extended period of time washing out as much bacteria as you can. Then clean around the wound with soap wipes.

Coral contains a range of very nasty and unusual bacteria and toxins. Tiny coral cysts enter the wound and get embedded in tissue to not only cause wound healing delay, but pain and recurrent swelling for a long time. So naturally the first major rule is thorough, extended cleaning. The longer the better! Don’t do what we have seen a million times: “Oh, that’ll do mate.” No it probably won’t. Do it again, thoroughly.

 

02

Debride

Use tweezers (first sterilise the tweezers with alcohol wipes) to remove any foreign debris from the wound that still appear after washing. It is important to get any remains of the reef or coral dust out of the wound as mentioned above. 

Take your time doing this as thoroughly as possible, removing any dead skin with sterile equipment along the way. It is a major step to speeding up the healing process. 

We can’t stress this enough, do it right the first time, because once the swelling and infection sets in, it becomes increasingly difficult to remove foreign objects.

 

03

Remove Hair From Around The Wound

Use the razor to shave any hair around the wound in preparation for covering the wound. This greatly enhances how well any adhesive bandages stick to the skin, keeping the wound cleaner for longer and speeding up the healing process.

04

Clean With Wound Cleaning Sponge & Saline Solution

Fill the irrigation syringe with saline solution or simply use saline solution straight from the bottle and rinse the wound while lightly cleaning with a wound cleaning sponge.

05

Prepare The Area Around The Wound

Clean, dry and degrease the area around the wound with alcohol wipes. This not only rids of bacteria but dries the skin for applying an adhesive stretch dressing.

06

Protect The Wound

Treat the wound with a triple antibiotic ointment ensuring any remaining bacteria from the cleaning or debriding process doesn’t take root in your injury, preventing infection and assisting in relieving pain and inflammation.   

While commonly used antiseptics such as lime, hydrogen peroxide, iodine or rubbing alcohol into the wound does work to kill bacteria it also damages the tissue, irritates the wound and delays the healing process.

 

07

Active The Blood Clotting System

Use Hemostatic Gauze to control any remaining bleeding and active the blood clotting system. With scissors cut and shape the hemostatic gauze to shape to match the wound and apply directly to the wound with pressure.

Hemostatic gauze is commonly used by armed forces and hospitals to address gunshot wounds. When the Hemostatic Gauze contacts with the wound it quickly transforms into a stiff gel, filling the wound, sealing capillary ends and activating the blood clotting system saving you days or weeks of recovery time.

 

08

Apply Dressing

Prepare an adhesive stretch dressing by cutting it to the length you need, then cutting it to the desired shape and apply it directly over the top of the wound and/or hemostatic gauze when the area around your wound is completely dry. 

Hot tip: round the corners of the dressing with scissors so there are no corners that may start to peel back off the skin.

09

Reduce The Swelling

Raise the limb. Swelling, even if you can’t see it, can delay healing, especially in areas of poor circulation. Keep your arm or leg up to the level of your heart or higher in the first few hours.

10

Monitor The Area Around Your Wound For Infection

This is indicated by red spreading edges around the wound which can lead to fever, severe illness and even death. If you see this, you need urgent medical help. Do not delay even if you are in a remote place — you will need antibiotics or change to a different antibiotic if you are on one already. Get some medical advice even if it’s on the phone to work out which antibiotic is best and assess your condition if you’re getting ill and febrile.

Seek urgent medical attention if…

  1. The wound is large or deep.
  2. The edges of the wound do not stay together.
  3. It is not possible to clean the wound properly or remove all debris. 
  4. Symptoms of infection occur (fever, increasing pain or redness, or discharge from the wound).
  5. If blood is spurting from the wound or if applying pressure to the wound does not stop the bleeding!

Obviously, no-one plans to get injured, but when you’re surfing reefs, it’s going to happen. Proper planning prevents poor performance, and the best place to start is a first aid kit.

Not having a good First Aid Kit on hand places you at serious risk”.

Other Items You Need In Your First Aid Kit…

Butterfly Stitches

Also known as Steri-Strips or butterfly bandages, are narrow adhesive bandages that are used instead of traditional stitches (sutures) to close small, shallow cuts.

Splinter Probe

Sea urchin spines have a tendency to wander into the worst parts of the body, regardless of how well you protect yourself. Your best bet is to use a splinter probe to efficiently remove the spine as soon as possible.

Sports Tape

Not your typical rigid strapping tape but a pliable sports tape with stretch to fit the curves and corners of your body securely where a lot of reef cuts occur.

Self-Adhering Elastic Bandage

Lets you customise the perfect fit, and the self-adhering closure lets you secure the bandage without clips or tape as the bandage sticks to itself rather than to your skin.

Cotton Bud Swabs

 Versatile tool that has many uses in your first aid kit.  

Instant Ice Pack

Portable ready-to-use cold therapy treatment providing instant cold for use anywhere, anytime.

Where Can You Get All Of These Items…

 

To get the most out of your surf trip to Indonesia you need to be prepared with the right stuff, which is why we have thoughtfully packaged all of these items and more into a purpose built first aid kit for travelling to Indonesia.

$139.00

ultimate-surf-trip-first-aid-kit