Wilderness Medicine, First Aid, and Outdoor Skills
First Aid for Common Problems

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US Army First Aid Manual
Fundamental Criteria for First Aid
Basic Measures for First Aid
First Aid for Special Wounds
First Aid for Fractures
First Aid for Climatic Injuries
First Aid for Bites and Stings
First Aid in Toxic Environments
First Aid for Psychological Reactions
Appendix A: First Aid Case and Kits, Dressings, and Bandages
Appendix B: Rescue and Transportation Procedures
Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions
Appendix D: Digital Pressure
Appendix E: Decontamination Procedures
Appendix F: Glossary

First Aid for Common Problems


C-7. Heat Rash (or Prickly Heat)

a. Description. Heat rash is a skin rash caused by the blockage of the sweat glands because of hot, humid weather or because of fever. It appears as a rash of patches of tiny reddish pinpoints that itch.

b. First Aid. Wear clothing that is light and loose and/or uncover the affected area. Use skin powders or lotion.

C-8. Contact Poisoning (Skin Rashes)

a. General.

    (1) Poison Ivy grows as a small plant (vine or shrub) and has three glossy leaflets (Figure C-1).

    (2) Poison Oak grows in shrub or vine form, and has clusters of three leaflets with wavy edges (Figure C-2).

    (3) Poison Sumac grows as a shrub or small tree. Leaflets grow opposite each other with one at tip (Figure C-3).

b. Signs/Symptoms.

  • Redness.

  • Swelling.

  • Itching.

  • Rashes or blisters.

  • Burning sensation.

  • General headaches and fever.


Secondary infection may occur when blisters break.

c. First Aid.

    (1) Expose the affected area: remove clothing and jewelry.

    (2) Cleanse affected area with soap and water.

    (3) Apply rubbing alcohol, if available, to the affected areas.

    (4) Apply calamine lotion (helps relieve itching and burning).

    (5) Avoid dressing the affected area.

    (6) Seek medical help, evacuate if necessary. (If rash is severe, or on face or genitals, seek medical help.)

C-9. Care of the Feet

Proper foot care is essential for all soldiers in order to maintain their optimal health and physical fitness. To reduce the possibilities of serious foot trouble, observe the following rules:

a. Foot hygiene is important. Wash and dry feet thoroughly, especially between the toes. Soldiers who perspire freely should apply powder lightly and evenly twice a day.

b. Properly fitted shoes/boots should be the only ones issued. There should be no binding or pressure spots.

c. Clean, properly fitting socks should be changed and washed daily. Avoid socks with holes or poorly darned areas; they may cause blisters.

d. Attend promptly to common medical problems such as blisters, ingrown toenails, and fungus infections (like athlete's foot).

e. Foot marches are a severe test for the feet. Use only properly fitted footgear and socks. Footgear should be completely broken-in. DO NOT break-in new footgear on a long march. Any blisters, sores, and so forth, should be treated promptly. Keep the feet as dry as possible on the march; carry extra socks and change if feet get wet (socks can be dried by putting them under your shirt, around your waist or hanging on a rack). Inspect feet during rest breaks. Bring persistent complaints to the attention of medical personnel.

C-10. Blisters

Blisters are a common problem caused by friction. They may appear on such areas as the toes, heels, or the palm of the hand (anywhere friction may occur). Unless treated promptly and correctly, they may become infected. PREVENTION is the best solution to AVOID blisters and subsequent infection. For example, ensure boots are prepared properly for a good fit, whenever possible always keep feet clean and dry; and, wear clean socks that also fit properly. Gloves should be worn whenever extensive manual work is done.


    Keep blisters clean. Care should be taken to keep the feet as clean as possible at all
    times. Use soap and water for cleansing. Painful blisters and/or signs of infection, such
    as redness, throbbing, drainage, and so forth, are reasons for seeking medical treatment.
    Seek medical treatment only from qualified medical personnel.

(U.S. Public Health Service, 1986).

Back to Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions

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