16/08/2009 at 9:35 am #102692
ex army chickMember
Hello Lady trekkers – After many years of military training I thought this info may be of interest for any female trekkers out there wondering how they are going to stay healthy whilst trekking in the tropics. These tried and proven habits have worked without fail for myself and my female friends and we have never been sick or infected due to poor hygiene etc.
Ok the facts – females have moist body parts. We need to stay clean and free of bacteria that is partcularly associated with sweating and toilteing. In the tropics, bacteria will breed rapidy and a slight 'itch' down there in the morning can be a raging skin infection by the afternoon. So here are my tips-
1. WAXING -I f you are a brazillian waxer, stop before you trek and allow your hair to grow to a point where it is coming through the skin to a length of about 5mm. By doing this you avoid the risk of infection caused when a hair folicle is restricted in its growth through the skin due to your underwear constantly rubbing whilst hiking. Likewise, if you are not a waxer, trim you hair to 5mm also. Remember, short is clean.
2. UNDERWEAR – Buy good fitting underwear in black. I use to like Sloggi aerobic knickers because they were well fitting and didnt 'ride up'. I always wore black so I never really saw how filthy they got and I just threw them out at the end of training/trekking. Same with a bra – buy black.
3. TOLIETING – This is the most important part………stick to it or risk infection! You need to have individually wrapped anti-bacterial wipes, a large number of panty liners and re-sealable sandwich size bags. You also need to have pants and shirts with good size pockets in them (imagine a military uniform style with leg pockets and chest pockets etc). In your top chest pocket you carry a zip lock bag with half a dozen panty liners and twice as many anti-bac wipes. This is your clean pocket and you restock it from your big pack each morning.
Whenever you go to the toliet you must cleanse yourself using the anti-bac wipe (you get use to it being wet and it cleans better than loo paper etc) instead of toilet paper and you must change the panty liner in your knickers every time also. This way you are cleansing yourself with a anti-bac preparation and you are also removing any bacteria in your old panty liner. It is just like putting on clean underwear EVERY time you go to the toilet. Trail the anti-bac wipes at home first to ensure they dont irritate your skin.
Your now dirty-anti-bac wipe and your old panty liner now get rolled up and placed in another zip lock bag in your trouser pocket. This is your dirty bag. At the end of the day you remove your entire dirty zip lock bag to your big pack pack for removal from the track at the end of the journey. Each morning place in your pockets your new clean bag (liners and wipes) and your empty zip lock dirty bag and you are ready for the day with no need to go to your pack.
For a final clean up, finish by washing your hands with a fresh/new anti back wipe. Your hands are now germ free also!
These tips ensure no rubbish is left behind on the track and most importantly you remain healthy and free of bacteria whilst trekking.
Hope this helps. Any other great ideas out there?16/08/2009 at 12:46 pm #102691
Great handy hints. Here's another one: Avoid using any form of talcum powder 'down there' as this can harbour bacteria and be a breeding ground for all sorts of nasties.
Underwear: I've heard woolen underwear works very well, but this can be expensive. Bike pants, Skins and the like would also suffice (however, depending on what brand you choose, this way can also be expensive)…
Also: http://www.whizbiz.com.au/ – you can buy them from the traveldocs or online.
This is a device that allows women to pee standing up. Yes, fellas, have a chuckle – we (pardon the pun) don't have the inbuilt uh…systems that you guys have
It's a bit like a cup for men (baseball) except this has a tube thing built into its shape. Impossible to um…'install' the wrong way up!
I am currently trialling its use at home and it really is quite effective. However, it feels a bit uncomfortable to wear it whilst walking, so I think realistically I would probably only use it at night…17/08/2009 at 8:56 am #102696
Toileting wasn't an issue for me. I drank about 8-10 litres of water each day on the track, but due to the heat and sweating only needed to 'use the bathroom' a few times each day. On all days but one I was fine from when we left camp in the moring till arriving at our morning tea stop, then our lunch stop and then our camp that night. Each stop was in a camp area with toilets provided. More than half were long drop types with seats, the remainder a squat loo. I think your 'pee while you stand' device Fluppy would be a hindrance and uncomfortable to boot, and unnecessary. The loos were on the nose, but I didn't have a problem with them at all. Just get in, get the job done and get out.
I overcatered on loo paper by miles ( took 3 rolls and used not a full one), but was worried I may get the runs and wanted to be prepared. Personally, I feel there is no need to do anything any differently on the track than at home. I washed my knickers each night and hung them on my backpack next day with my socks… remembering to bring them in before it rained! Over my knickers I wore lycra bike pants and then my shorts.
My First Aid kit contained medication for thrush and a bladder infection – just in case. Better to be safe than sorry. Cheers18/08/2009 at 3:41 am #102697
39thdecendantMember18/08/2009 at 7:43 am #102698
great post 'ex army chic'.
Someone I know told me something VERY similar recently!!19/08/2009 at 5:41 am #102702
Like Nettie, I used only anti-bacterial wipes instead of loo paper. (They come in handy little pocket-sized packs and are also good for cleaning loo seats if they are provided). Personally, I preferred the squat loos where I didn't actually have to sit on anything.
I also wore bike pants under my shorts, which certainly made wet shorts feel more comfortable and no chaffing. Sports bras are great as well, especially the ones with no padding. They are comfortable enough to sleep in – clean undies at night and just crawl out and put on the day clothes in the morning.
I got a dose of thrush first up, but had brought canesten for such an emergency and was soon fine.
I also kept a small bottle of anti-bacterial solution in my pocket for washing my hands after each loo visit. That saves wasting wipes as I used about 3 little packs of wipes and it was only just enough.
All "ex-army chic"'s advice is good. she has probably done more field exercises than we ever will.24/08/2009 at 9:11 am #102767
I took travel pack size tissues and kept an individual pack of those in a ziplock bag in my pocket, with my anti-bac hand wash, and just replaced them each day. I quite liked the hole in the ground facilities, because there wasn't anything to touch. Where there were sit down loos, I wiped them with anti-bac, then put tissue down before sitting. I found the underwear liners were great too, and meant I didn't have to take a million pairs of undies.
Pee breaks weren't really a concern to me. I went in the morning before we trekked out and although I took in a lot of water, I sweat out as much, and I didn't need to go again till we reached our next camp. About 8 days in, it was my time of month, so that made life more interesting, but I didn't have any problems staying clean or dry. I had canisten and ural in my first aid kit, just in case.
I took two sports bras and alternated between a pair of short and long skins each day.25/08/2009 at 9:23 am #102776
Lorna – 8-10 Litres of water per day??? OMG!!! I struggle with just 3-4. Is 10 Litres per day really possible – I'm in shock – how will I manage that?
Eve – It's too bad I live in QLD – I'd be the first to sign up to your program. Seriously. Also, where would I buy underwear liners from?
Mrs Moo – Good thinking re; Canisten. I wouldn't have thought of that.
Also – biodegradeable soap. Apart from Sea-Summit paper-thin soaps, where would I find these? What brands did others who have trekked use?
Is 'Dove' soap considered biodegradeable? What about those little souvineer soaps that you get in hotels. Are those biodegradeable?25/08/2009 at 9:28 am #102777
Fluppy, I think by underwear liners she just means the little panty liners you buy at the supermarket or chemist.25/08/2009 at 12:15 pm #102778
Fluppy, you'll sweat a lot of that water out. Don't focus on the actual amount of water so much; just keep hydrated. I didn't figure out how much water I'd taken in till almost the end of the trip when I got to the end of a layer of puri-tabs.
Liners…Carefree Barely There, or Invisibles, or something like that.
One thing I'll also mention…I have quite long, thick hair. Between sweat and a couple of cold showers, it was wet to some degree the entire time. I kept it tied up, except at night, but my straight hair still looked rather 'rasta' looking by day 11. The one time I wanted to wash it in a creek, the guys in the group convinced me not to put my entire head under water, in case I got an ear infection etc. So I sat in the creek and just soaked my hair with a wet towel.
One of the guys had those 'wafer' soaps and they were good. I will take those next time, instead of a bar of soap.
Fluppy, email me if you want some training ideas. Am happy to help if I can. moonatsunrise11 @ gmail . com
Eve25/08/2009 at 2:53 pm #102783
Yes, I suppose I will sweat a lot of it out. I surprised myself the other day by drinking just 2 litres. I have a hydration pack while I'm at the gym and just sip it the whole way through. I went through it within 2 hrs (I'm not usually a fluid person – naughty me, yes I know *sigh*)
Gotcha about the liners.
I will be getting my hair cut, so that won't be a problem for me – I only grew it long to win a bet .
Re; training. Because I've been (trying) to train over the last 18 months (I have been given a 3 month training plan, but piked out at week 5 due to finding the time to fit it in with only every 2nd weekend to train at that point – (week 5 was walking for 6-8 hrs with 10kg + water three times), it has now become more of a motivational issue. Gotta slap those negative thoughts outta my head…
All the same, I think I'll email you for training ideas anyway. Thanks.26/08/2009 at 12:48 pm #102802
As Eve said, the amount of water you drink isn't important Fluppy … just keep drinking. Even with 8-10 litres I only needed to pee a few times for the whole day. Which makes me think your device to pee while standing won't be necessary Fluppy. Believe me, you'll sweat so much you won't be peeing that often. My feelings are it would just be uncomfortable and irritating. Some of our group didnt' use puritabs – but, personally, I wasn't game to risk it.
I washed my hair each night… and shaved my legs every second day. The guys laughed… but I can't stand the feel of hairy legs!! Yes, the water is absolutely freezing ( very invigorating) but I still ducked under to wash the soap off. The 6 women on our trek all bathed together and then the guys did later.
I took Canastin and antibiotics for cystitis/bladdr infection, along with all the other recommended first aid gear…. just in case.
There was quite a lot of rain when I walked in June so I only ever needed about 2 litres of water at a time. When I coudl feel it getting light I'd tell my porter to let me know when I could next get water… and it was always before I ran out. The extra 1 litre bottle was good so that I could continue drinking out of the bladdeer while it was purifying.26/10/2009 at 4:41 am #103440
I HATE drinking water- but easily got through 15L odd per day. i honestly didnt notice it and the water up there is BEAUTIFUL! a sip of cool water straight from the stream is no hardship at all!! i had a couple of 1l Nalgene bottle that i mixed up staminade in for a bit of flavour, and then had my bladder in my daypack. my suggestion is everytime the porters ask if you want to fill up your water.. do so.
Merino undies are worth their weight in gold. One pair will be all you need for the whole trip. as an alternative 2 pairs of Ex-officio's will be great as well. wash and alternate as you would your liner socks.
take a thrush tablet with you just in case- i didnt need mine thankfully, but i sure as hell wasnt going to not pack it.
You are doing the right thing cutting your hair. i shaved mine and it was the best thing i did- though i can understand if not everyone wants to rush off and do that. (very empowering though!) but definately having shorter hair is a sensible move.
also, you mention sea to summit soap sheets, but do you know they have a liquid wash as well?? called wilderness wash i think- they do a whole range anyway of shampoos, body wash everything.
Cant wait to hear how your trip goes!24/11/2009 at 2:21 pm #103667
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