Dirty Needles?

Traveling in under developed countries poses some unique challenges. What if I get cut and need stitches? What if I have a dental emergency? Get diarrhea so bad I need IV rehydration? Will they have properly sterilized equipment?

You can purchase syringe and suture kits to take with you. These are not do it yourself kits. They are to be given to a trained health care provider to use on you in such emergencies.

Typically, these kits contain needles, suture materials, IV catheters, gloves and antiviral and antibacterial wipes to close wounds and start IV’s. They can be used to administer anesthetics for emergency dental procedures, too.

To help with going through customs,  get a note from your travel clinic provider that states that these items are being used for personal use only. One kit from Adventure Medical Kits has declaratory statements about use printed on the outside in 8 different languages.

Many travel clinics, including Travel Health of New Hampshire, have these kits available for purchase. Hopefully you will never need to use such a kit,  but in countries where blood borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis are common, it is reassuring to know that if you the equipment used on you is definitely sterile.

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Personal first aid kits for traveling

What you need to bring for a personal first aid kit will depend on your health, where you are going and how long you will be there. Here are some suggestions of what to bring for a 2-3 week trip to a tropical area in an under developed country. Remember to bring small amounts in small tight containers that are well labeled.

Band aids made of cloth not plastic (they can melt)

Alcohol preps- those foil packets of alcohol pads about 10

Sunscreen – waterproof SPF 15 higher

Lip balm with SPF 15 or higher

Soothing eye drops or artificial tears

Tweezers and small scissors ( put in check on bag not carry on)

Duct tape – take a toilet paper cardboard tube and cut in half and wrap a few yards of duct tape around it to make a small roll

Small tube of triple antibiotic cream (ointments can melt)

Bug bite cream – 1% hydrocortisone cream, diphenhydramine cream or a product such as After Bite

Prescription medicines in original labeled bottles

Anti diarrhea medicine – available over the counter

Acupressure wrist bands for motion sickness

Mild laxative tablets

Aspirin or ibuprofen or acetaminophen (depending on what you can take based on allergies, health problems and concurrent medications – if in doubt ask a health professional)

Emergency dental kit

If you wear contact lenses you may want to leave them home. Lack of clean water makes proper handling and cleaning contacts a problem. The dryness of the airplane and dust on safari make wearing contacts uncomfortable.

There are first aid kits available that have most of the above all prepackaged. If you don’t use it on this trip, there is always the next!