Some time ago my mother punctured her leg while working outside, leaving a wound about half an inch deep. She soon lamented how aching and hot it felt. It was tender to the touch and angry red. This was within a few hours of it happening.
She was contemplating going to the hospital to have it looked at and maybe get some antibiotics. It hurt her that much. But as country folk who lived a fair distance from any hospital, we are inclined to heal ourselves if at all possible.
I harkened back to when my horse broke through our septic tank and cut his back legs up pretty badly. His whole back end was covered in septic sludge when I found him. I washed his legs with soap and water before applying a poultice of charcoal and Epsom salt. Yes, charcoal. The Epsom salt you have probably heard of in the past for drawing out infection and other things, but charcoal is only talked about in whispers by the medical profession. Actually, doctors and veterinarians use charcoal relatively often for purging poisons or putting on wounds. Us laymen just don't often know that's what they are using.
But what is a poultice? It is a medicated mass applied to a wound or lesion to draw out infection. Salt does this, and is famous for it, but it also burns like a mass of tiny fire ants. For that reason and others it is not recommended for use on open wounds. Charcoal however does not burn or inhibit new tissue growth, and I daresay it works better than salt. Yes, burned up wood works as a better healing agent on deep wounds than salt. The other good thing is that there are no worries if the charcoal stays where you put it for however long you need it to. It is a perfectly safe antibacterial agent and doesn't harm the body is absorbed. In fact, it is often used for that property to draw out internal damage.
But don't listen to me. Listen to my horse who still has two perfectly healed back legs. Or my mother, whose leg was almost back to normal within a couple hours of applying charcoal to it.
This is the poultice I used. Honestly, you don't need the essential oil, aloe vera, or salt. The charcoal is perfectly capable of acting on its own. The other ingredients act as backup and aid healing. The aloe vera is there as a binding agent, but you could just as easily use water. (I used aloe vera for a chicken.) For small wounds, you could also use antibacterial ointment as a binder.
1 charcoal briquette (or 1/2-3/4 cup of powdered charcoal)*
1/2 to 3/4 cup of Epsom salt
Rose essential oil
Sterilized pad (at least 3x3")
Smash the briquette into small pieces with a hammer and grind into powder with a mortar and pestle. (You can save this step if you buy the powdered charcoal designed for livestock use. I don't think they make charcoal powder for people, which is a shame.)
Combine charcoal with salt, enough ointment to bind it all together (for the horse I used water), and 4-8 drops of rose oil.
Apply poultice to pad. Apply pad to wound and attach with bandage tape.
Leave on the wound for at least two hours, preferably all day. The longer the poultice is there, the more bacteria it will draw out. If the wound drains a lot, reapply as necessary.
*It is important you use pure charcoal, not the briquettes with lighter fluid in them or something. Just charcoal. Burnt wood.
DISCLAIMER: If one or two applications over a 24-48 hours does not remove the heat and redness of the wound, see your doctor, because you have a bacteria greater than what any poultice or cream can kill. You need internal antibiotics. For my horse, the poultice healed all but two puncture wounds, and he needed penicillin before those would heal. Topical treatments can only go so far, but if this poultice can kill bacteria from a septic tank, I am assured of its potency. Also, if you live in an area with tetanus and receive a puncture wound, get a tetanus shot if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
I recommend, as a student of medicine, this poultice for any wound or lesion not life threatening. Have common sense.
Charcoal is quite useful outdoors. If you are wounded outdoors, burning wood into charcoal, mixing it with any type of clean liquid, and applying it to the wound can prevent infection so you can worry about getting back to civilization. Charcoal is also a coagulant, so if you receive a bleeding wound, a copious application of charcoal will encourage clotting and in many cases, form a type of scab over the wound. This is good for animal bites, deep scratches, and insect bites. Your rescuers might also see the fire, so hooray!
I can attest to charcoal's ability as a coagulant. I was working on one of my neighbor's goats and the doe's horn broke off in my hand. Blood was everywhere. All my neighbor had was one briquette. He didn't have any other medical thing to stop the bleeding either. All we had was this lonely piece of charcoal. I crushed it up, slapped it on the doe's head where her horn used to be, and made a bandage out of a cotton shirt. The bleeding stopped within a few minutes. When I went back to check on her the next day, I took off the bandage and the charcoal had literally made a pack on her head. I didn't even need to put on a new bandage. It was perfectly fine as it was. She didn't have any problem after that.
Charcoal works on animals as well as people. I told you about my horse, but I also had a chicken attacked by a dog. The dog took a chunk out of one of the hen's thighs and let this putrid, gaping wound. I packed charcoal bound with aloe vera on it and the chicken survived. After a month or two she grew back feathers and you couldn't even tell she had ever been attacked at all.
The only thing I will say now is that if you do have a wound, and use charcoal on it, you will be tattooed. Mom had a black spot on her leg for some time. It doesn't harm anything and will eventually go away as your skin replaces itself, but you will be temporarily tattooed. But I think charcoal speaks for itself. It has saved lives, both human and animal.
Charcoal is an antibacterial coagulant ideal for poultices. It forms a dense paste when powdered and mixed with liquid. Uses include puncture wounds, wounds carrying a high risk of infection, and draining wounds, including wounds that don't want to stop bleeding.