How to treat a wound without using antbiotics
Image: the author in winning form, despite a nasty crash earlier on in the race
As we get older, it is said that we do not bounce very well! I guess this is one reason why most people my age have given up hurtling down mountains at high speed on bikes. Mountain bike racing is a harsh and high risk sport. I haven't given up and, every now and then, I pay the price! Injuries include the occasional broken bone, and the flesh wounds can look pretty bad. Infection following a slide on dirt and gravel is a constant concern. Especially so, as antibiotics progressively are losing their effectiveness.
The end of antibiotics is nigh!
It is not long now before the last antibiotic is rendered ineffective. This is the consequence of our abusing a class of wonder drugs. In the process we, including medical professionals, have almost forgotten the basics of wound care. Most wounds do not need antibiotics and antiseptics. All we need to do is practice some basic rules of hygiene and do some very simple things to enhance our ability to fight bugs and to heal quickly. Our over-reliance on chemicals has made us lazy to such an extent that this complacency is coming back to bite us on our bums in the form of drugs-resistant superbugs! For our sakes, antibiotics must be reserved for those who really need them.
In this article, I take you through the gradual process of healing without resorting to antibiotics and antiseptics following a rather nasty case of gravel rash!
Image: Gravel rash after sliding out, showing a rather deep slash. Ouch!
It would be normal practice to have some stitches to close the gash. I decided the need was marginal, so did not bother with stitches, choosing, instead, the path of self-treatment.
The first step was to thoroughly clean the wound, which was done by way of soaking in a hot bath, along with a suitable "painkiller" product.
Image: Cleaning the wounds, of which there were several, including the right elbow, shoulder, and bruised ribs
Bacteria thrive on dead tissue, so the wound was thoroughly soaked and soaped, then gently scrubbed with the palm of the hand. This is an uncomfortable thing to do but not painful in the sense of the word.
Image: The wound after a thorough soak and cleansing
After gently patting the wound and surrounding area dry, it was under a special Deep Penetrating Light (DPL) machine for the best part of an hour while watching a movie on the TV.
Image: DPL therapy for the wound and bruising
DPL therapy uses precise light spectrum waves to directly stimulate the mitochondrial conversion of low energy ADP to high energy ATP and, therefore healing. This DPL machine also has light waves that break organic molecules to less complex ones that are less toxic and more easily eliminated from the body (think blue light therapy for jaundice and an example of this). Other precise light waves at the blue end of the light spectrum have an antimicrobial action, thus reducing the risk of infection.
Rest from exercise
I took the following day off from any exercise and rested up as much as possible. I was feeling a little bruised and battered. There was nothing to be gained by working out. Exercise was resumed the following day, although I did take it easy - of course!
Antibiotics and Antiseptics
No antibiotics or antiseptic lotions were used. All that I did was soak and clean the wound of any dirt and cellular debris once a day and dressed the wound with a simple silver-impregnated band aid.
Images: The wound one day later, after another soak and cleaning in the bath
Looking good and no hint of infection - wonderful!
Image: silver impregnated band aid placed over the worst of it
Image: strapping tape placed over the band aid to give some wider coverage and some better than nothing protection during the day and while attempting sleeping
If you are wondering how I removed these dressings, I first soaked in a hot bath to soften any scab and loosen the adhesive before pulling them off carefully and cleaning the wounds.
Painkillers and anti-inflammatories
As a wise person once said, "pain is all in the head". With that in mind, I saw no problem with putting up with the pain. Why take drugs that mess with your guts, do damage to your liver and slow healing? Yes, that's what these drugs do. So, since I was not suffering (there's an important distinction between pain and suffering), I had no need for these drugs. Healing was the priority!
Image: healing after one week. No sign of infection. Looking good!
DPL therapy and daily cleaning of the wound was the daily routine for the first week.
Image: ten days into healing and looking very good indeed!
Image: two weeks following the wipeout
Image: three weeks later, the healing is well on its way! Almost complete.
During this entire process of healing, I lost just one day of training and contested two races, including the Wellington championships, winning all three races for the Masters 50+ title. Nobody, other than those closest to me knew of my injuries. They did not need to.
Only cost was a few packets of bandaids. No charges for the taxpayer!
Image: victory in the Wellington MTB Champs