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Outdoor First Aid

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Minor Wounds

No wound, now matter how minor, should go ignored in the backcountry. Check out these quick tips to clean it up and keep trekking.

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Minor Wounds |
Heavy Bleeding |
Muscles & Bones |
Animal & Insect Bites |
Gastrointestinal Illness |
Dental Emergencies |
Environmental Threats |
Stay or Go: Calculating Your Risk |
Extreme First Aid |
First Aid Improv |
What to Pack |
Evacuate or Wait? | Risk Factors

Blisters

Clean well with an antiseptic wipe. Sterilize the point of a pin or knife with flame or an alcohol swab and gently pierce the blister. Massage the fluid out, leaving the roof of the blister intact.

Cover with a friction-reducing dressing, such as Blist-o-Ban (sammedical.com), or cut a donut-shaped piece of moleskin and place it over the blister. Fill the hole with antibiotic ointment and cover the moleskin with athletic or duct tape.

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PHOTO SLIDESHOW: How to Treat a Blister

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Learn how to fix this common hiking ailment correctly and you’ll be back on the trail in no time.

Abrasions

Scrub the wound with soap and a gauze pad or bandanna, making sure to remove all debris (warning: It’ll hurt). Rinse off all of the soap, then apply a layer of antibiotic ointment to a gauze pad and tape it in place. (You can also use a commercial pad with adhesive edges.) The pad should completely cover the wound.

Burns

Immediately plunge the burn site into cold water. Second best: Apply a water-soaked bandanna, a burn gel, or aloe vera. Continue cooling until pain has substantially subsided, then cover the burn with ointment and a gauze pad. If blisters form, prevent the blisters from popping as long as possible.