Have you been concerned about carrying antiseptic solutions in your first aid kit while backpacking? Clean water appears to be a great option, and it's as close as your backpacking stove.
The Cochrane Researchers considered data from eleven trials that compared rates of infection and healing in wounds when treated with various cleansing regimes. Even in traumatic injuries there was no significant difference between cleansing with saline, distilled water or boiled water.
Even using drinkable tap water to clean wounds did not increase infection rates. On the other hand, it did nothing to promote healing as compared to leaving the wound alone.
Cleaning wounds caused by injuries is part of standard medical care, but there is a vigorous debate about how best to do it. Research shows that using chemical-containing antiseptic may slow wound healing. Many people recommend saline (salt solution) instead, but others worry that this will wash away growth promoters and infection-fighting white blood cells. Sterile saline is also not always available and can be expensive. And for backpackers, the question is always one of weight.
The decision to use plain "water to cleanse wounds should take into account the quality of water, nature of wounds and the patient’s general condition," says lead author Ritin Fernandez who works in the Centre for Applied Nursing Research in Liverpool BC, Australia.
by Joan H. Young
with informationfrom a news release of Wiley-Blackwell , "Clean or boiled tap water is as good as saline at cleaning acute wounds", Jan 22, 2008
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