Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » How do you stay clean?


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John Hillyer
(TrNameLucky) - MLife
Re: How do you stay clean? on 06/30/2014 17:06:38 MDT Print View

Yak,

With your medical condition, I would use Hibiclens (Chlorhexidine Gluconate 4% solution) when washing at least once a week. I was hospitalized with a MRSA infection while hiking on the PCT this summer and will be using this product probably for the rest of my life. It is available at any large drug store in an 8oz bottle; consider repackaging in 1oz bottles and including it in resupply packages.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
good to know on 06/30/2014 21:08:51 MDT Print View

I never heard of hibiclens, I'll have to do some reading on it.

I don't like to get super stinky at the end of a 7 day hike, so I take measures to keep somewhat clean each day. I swim in lakes when possible, shooting for once a day, with clothes on (not socks). I use wet wipes on face, neck and pits before bed. I wear shirts and socks for one day, maybe two, then wash them in a dry bag with a tiny bit of soap, and rinse, dumping the water away from water sources. I take two shirts, and two pairs of socks, so when one is drying, I'm hiking in "clean" shirt and socks. So I wash a shirt and pair of socks each day or two, in the evening. Its no big deal.

After a few days I heat up a pot of water and use a microfiber face cloth to wash up with soap. I don't put the face cloth in the pot, I pour water out of the pot onto the face cloth, so there is no contamination of the cooking pot with soap.

What I am trying to avoid is the sleeping bag smelling so horrible that I stink myself out, which I have done in the past. I feel a lot better when I am clean.

Yak Attack
(Yak) - M

Locale: IN, USA
Re: Re: How do you stay clean? on 06/30/2014 21:56:14 MDT Print View

"With your medical condition, I would use Hibiclens (Chlorhexidine Gluconate 4% solution) when washing at least once a week. I was hospitalized with a MRSA infection while hiking on the PCT this summer and will be using this product probably for the rest of my life."

Thanks everyone,but especially John for this tidbit of info.

I actually already have some of that stuff, though in a much weaker solution (0.12%) that my dentist has me was my mouth out with one week a month (it's horrible tasting).

A MRSA or some other nasty infection is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I had that once on my leg. We caught it really early, and they ended up cutting it out. My kids call that scar my "bullethole".

Would you mind providing some detail on how you use the stuff for skin cleaning? Do you need to rinse, use paper towel/pack towel/baby wipe, etc?

Many thanks to all who've contributed!

John Hillyer
(TrNameLucky) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: How do you stay clean? on 07/01/2014 13:03:15 MDT Print View

I use the Hibiclens in the shower. After cleaning myself, I turn the water off, apply the product to my body from the neck down working it into my skin especially the arm pits. After a couple of minutes I rinse thoroughly. The directions say not for long term use and not for use on the groin. I was told to scrub with it weekly especially concentrating on the armpits and groin. It is a liquid that rinses off easily. It reduces the amount of bacteria on the skin reducing the chance that a scrape or wound gets infected. It is a broad based antimicrobial that kills the bacteria directly by destroying the cell walls. The product has a red dye in it that aids in telling where the product has been applied but the dye does not transfer to the skin. I have not gotten back to hiking yet but using this product should reduce and delay the onset of the biological soup that can form on the skin while hiking when daily bathing is not available.

kevperro .
(kevperro) - F

Locale: Washington State
I don't on 07/01/2014 14:09:12 MDT Print View

I once went almost three months without bathing and while my clothing nearly rotted off my body I didn't die.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: How do you stay clean? on 07/01/2014 17:35:58 MDT Print View


> It reduces the amount of bacteria on the skin reducing the chance that a scrape or
> wound gets infected. It is a broad based antimicrobial that kills the bacteria

This has got to be one of the most idiotic ideas yet invented.

Your skin, and your whole body, depend for their (your) very life on a huge community of sympathetic bacteria which protect you against 'other bad bugs'. Wipe out your protective bacteria and you leave yourself wide open to all sorts of very serious and very harmful infections.

The idea that you must 'reduce and delay the onset of the biological soup that can form on the skin while hiking when daily' is so farcical and medically destructive that I wonder at the society which promotes these ideas.


Ah well, Darwin Awards and self destruction: nothing like it. Carry on.

Cheers

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How do you stay clean? on 07/01/2014 17:52:12 MDT Print View

"Ah well, Darwin Awards and self destruction: nothing like it. Carry on."
I was wondering who would hit the post button first.

+1 Darwin rules. As always. ;0))

Yak Attack
(Yak) - M

Locale: IN, USA
Re: I don't on 07/01/2014 20:56:31 MDT Print View

> I once went almost three months without bathing and while my clothing nearly
> rotted off my body I didn't die.

I can't do that. My body might actually die. See this from my OP:

> I take some quite strong immune-suppressants for one of my medical conditions,
> so cleanliness is pretty important. The alternative for me is skin infections.




>> It reduces the amount of bacteria on the skin reducing the chance that a scrape or
>> wound gets infected. It is a broad based antimicrobial that kills the bacteria

> This has got to be one of the most idiotic ideas yet invented.

I'm not a doctor or any kind of scientist. It sounds like John was doing this on advice of a doctor after having a MRSA infection.

This isn't about stink or some kind of hyper-clean OCD, this is about making sure my skin doesn't end up a giant sack of puss. Most times, if I go more than 3 days w/o a shower, I don't need any kind of scrape or cut, but I'll have small infections start to break out everywhere.

One time w/ MRSA was enough for me. I know one man who died from it.

I suspect those of us w/ abnormal immune systems may need to do things a little differently. If there's a better way, please let me know what it is. That's why I posted afterall...

Thanks everyone.

Edit: spelling and formatting

Edited by Yak on 07/01/2014 20:58:10 MDT.

Alexander S
(Cascadicus) - M
Re: Re: I don't on 07/09/2014 00:04:08 MDT Print View

"Your skin, and your whole body, depend for their (your) very life on a huge community of sympathetic bacteria which protect you against 'other bad bugs'. Wipe out your protective bacteria and you leave yourself wide open to all sorts of very serious and very harmful infections".

Correct. Normal Flora (good bacteria) colonize the skin and essentially crowd out pathogenic bacteria and fungi. That is why healthy people shouldn't constantly sterilize their skin (and their kids btw)as this may risk of fungal growth.

If however you've had a bout with antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA, you have likely been colonized by the bacteria in various crevices and risk having another infection. That's why the good doc wants him to use the cleanser.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Re: I don't on 07/10/2014 11:49:51 MDT Print View

If stinkiness is an issue I've found that merino wool shirts smell less rank than synthetic.

As for the health condition and bacteria issue, no suggestions from me except that I have had good luck just staying away from people. People have a lot of nasty germs. Nature seems pretty clean by comparison.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Re: I don't on 07/10/2014 12:39:01 MDT Print View

Yak - obviously not everyone understands the ramifications of having MRSA (or perhaps they were addressing the folks that wanted to use the heavy duty stuff just to clean up with). For most people in most situations, I would not even advocate antimicrobial hand sanitizer (soap and water is effective in most situations, not overkill as sanitizers can be, and in the case of those containing triclosan can even lead to developing resistant organisms, a very bad thing indeed as you have found out) - but anyone with a history of MRSA is not "most people".

Best of luck to you - it sounds like you have a good idea of what you need to do to minimize chances of recurrence in the backcountry. For the rest of us - no need to resort to things that wipe out our normal flora especially when there is adequate water for washing up.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: How do you stay clean? on 07/11/2014 20:58:30 MDT Print View

"A MRSA or some other nasty infection is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I had that once on my leg."

If you've already had MRSA, have you had a culture taken from your nasal passages and analyzed for the presence of MRSA? That is the prime spot where it incubates, and from whence can be easily transferred to other parts of your body by simple, unconscious gestures like rubbing your nose, wiping it, etc, and then scratching your arm or whatever.

Yak Attack
(Yak) - M

Locale: IN, USA
Never heard of that test before on 07/21/2014 22:57:02 MDT Print View

But I'll ask my doc about it. Thanks for the tip!

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Never heard of that test before on 07/21/2014 23:21:34 MDT Print View

If you have had they might seriously want you to get some cultures in your home as well. Some bad stuff.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
How do you stay clean? on 07/22/2014 05:29:38 MDT Print View

With a compromised imune system, fighting off a skin infection is not easy to do in the back country. This is not the "normal" for most. The medications you take are shutting down the normal imune response from your body. Soo, even the normal bodily bacteria that help keep you "clean" are posing a danger. Be very carefull with food spoilage (not necessarily botulina.)

If you weekend routines work, then simply extend those between watering holes and wash thuroughly when you have a lot of water available.

Your hair is, perhaps, the dirtiest spot on your body. Open to the air, it collects bacteria, sweat, spores, pollen, dust, bodily oils, urea, etc making it a real breeding ground for bacteria. Even your groin is not THAT dirty, well, at least it is not normally open to air. Wash with water every day. Or, as was suggested, shave your head or use a very short hair cut. Long hair is good for avoiding bugs, but with a suppressed imune system you risk infection. Again, water will get it cleaner than soap and water the next day. Try to do your hair first, using about half the water you will be washing with. Again, wet your hair, dry with a bandana, wring it out, wet the bandana and wring it out, repeat.

Soap is quite difficult to totally wash away. While it removes a good percetage of dead skin, bacteria and fungi, it will usually be more difficult to remove, also. It can act as a food supply for the bacteria that are left, bringing about higher concentrations of bacteria, et al, on your skin. You really need a LOT of water to clear it from your body. Like a shower or lake/stream immersion. If you cannot do that do not use soap. Just wipe down with water two or three times. You will actually be cleaner the next day. Just use a pot of water, pour water out to wet your bandana (cotton or linen,) wipe down, wring it out, add water to wet it, wring it out, repeat untill you are done. Be carefull with "wild" water, guardia, crypto, etc can enter you body through body cavities or nicks, scratches, bug bites & cuts...any injury that breaks the skin. I would suggest you boil a pot before washing...either on the stove or on a fire.

Usually baby wipes are glycols, lanolin and a series of preservatives that were not approved for consumption, though some may be. Preservatives usually reduce or stop bacterial growth. Despite adding food (lanolin is an oil, glycols are sugar based) to your skin, they often inhibit bacterial growth for 10 minutes or so...some much longer. However, I have seen a few recomendations for drying these out for hiking. This is not really possible with a lot of the esters and other stuff that cause the antibacterial actions. A lot of the chemical soup just evaporates off. Along with any perfumes.

Avoid anti-perspirants, and anything that will slow down sweating. One way to clean up is to wipe down your "sweaty" skin, wet and wring out the bandana and repeat. Sweat wettened skin will help wash your body. Let it do its job.

OK. You have gone through about a half quart of water washing up. This should hold you till the next day. When hiking, your feet are important. Get a shoe that is large enough to wear two pair of heavy socks. You might need only one when hiking, though. When you are done with all the clean-up, do your feet. Your feet may get a blister or two. Keep you nails trimmed. Pop and sterilize any blisters, then cover them with duct tape after a complete drying. Usually this will last for two or three days...enough time to start the healing process. Larger blisters can be covered with a layer of superglue, first. And/or squirt some under the blister and press/wipe quickly with your fingers. Yes, your fingers will get coated, too. WG will double as a sterilizing agent if you don't have alcohol (at least 40%...scotch, bourben, vodka, or other alcohol works well.)

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
It takes effort... on 07/23/2014 15:20:58 MDT Print View

When creeks or rivers are available I sit or lay in it and stay there as long as I can take the cold water - usually 5 minutes.

SHAMPOO & SHAVE: Dr. Bonners' or equivalent soap. Rinse well away from stream W/ my cook pot.

LONG TRIPS: Where I must hitch rides into towns I pack a small hunk of solid deodorant (not in bear country), try to clean up AND wear clean clothes so my ride doesn't gag all the way to town. This is just a courtesy to them.

TOILET: I always, but always clean my hands with hand sanitizer. Also before preparing food.

Oh, yeah, here in the desert on trips where water tanks are scarce I take a "PTA" bath every day.

SLEEPING BAG: I wear a "sleep only" shirt and, when nights are cool a light synthetic long john set to keep my bag clean.
Once home I turn the bag inside out, spray it with Fabreeze Anti-bacterial spray and let it dry in the hot 'Vegas sun. UV rays will kill some bacteria.

Edited by Danepacker on 07/23/2014 15:34:20 MDT.