Wednesday, December 16, 2020

"Mountaineering and health" (6)

Alpinistic advice from a mountaineering medic of the silver age

The special discomforts to which mountaineers are subject are sore feet, sunburn, snow-blindness, and frost-bite. Under certain conditions, marked symptoms due to the rarity of the air occur which are spoken of, collectively, as 'mountain sickness'. 

The utmost care should be taken to prevent abrasions or blisters on the feet. Hints on this subject will be found elsewhere in this volume. Bathing the feet in a solution of alum hardens the skin. 

Soaping or greasing the stockings is an efficacious but unpleasant preventive. A small abrasion can be held in check by covering with gold beater skin or oiled silk painted red with collodion so as to adhere to the skin. 

A corn plaster judiciously applied prevents rubbing. If abrasions form, they are best treated by the application of mild boracic ointment thickly spread on a piece of clean lint. If blisters form, do not be in a hurry to puncture them When the fluid has escaped, the surface skin is easily rubbed off, and a sore results. In 48 hours or less, a new cuticle will have formed underneath, and the uplifted surface skin can be cut away without smarting being caused. 

The domestic practice of drawing a thread through the blister is bad. If matter forms in the blister, a red raised ring will form round it and the part will throb and become painful. The blister should then be pricked or cut at one edge and the matter let out. Blisters containing blood are dark. They are best treated in the same way as those containing clear fluid.


C T Dent’s Chapter III in the Badminton Library Series on Mountaineering, third edition (1901).

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