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[THE WIRE] Another brick in the wall

Being in and around the ocean for several months doesn’t go by unnoticed. Sun, clear skies and deep blue seawater are predominant and the salted bleached hair and brown skins, collected in a rate your sun studio will be jealous of. But looks can be deceiving since these picture-perfect conditions also form a constant threat to our health.

First, the salt and the sun are damaging our skin, which forms the first line of defense, the first wall, against pathogens. The skin got further tested by the sometimes rocky conditions we are sailing in and all the moving parts we are working with. Bruises, cuts, blisters and burns are never far away. Third, hygiene (vital for the health of your skin) is of a different standard here then you are probably used to at home, think of an occasional fresh water shower every few weeks and a moist and hot room to sleep in. As a result, skin infections occure frequently. Important is to determine and start treatment for contagious ones like impetigo vulgaris quickly to prevent spreading. Prevention is key and protection from sun and salt (hat, clothes and sunscreen) are important. And even for the toughest sailors, treating the skin nicely after a whole day in the sun with an emollient is not bad either. But even then skin problems can arise and I find myself not immune for them either.

After getting hit by a slamming yankee sheet two days ago (nothing bad) on my upper leg, something happened with my skin. Invaded by skin bacterias like the staphylococcus aureus, thirty hair follicles got infected and are forming small painfull pustels. A non contagious condition called folliculitis. First treatment consists of hygiene. Antibiotics could be started when the infection is spreading. For now, my brick in the wall is a daily fresh water rinse on the area before going to bed.

 

Written by:

Maks Romeijn, 28, Dutchie

Expedition Medic/ Researcher

‘Since my graduation from medical school in Leiden, I worked in several fields of acute medicine including cardiology and intensive care. I’m interested in the provision of optimum health care in situations outside the hospital. After following an expedition medicine course organized by World Extreme Medicine, it was only a matter of time before I would head off for an expedition.

Having sailed from a young age and kite surfing year round whenever there is wind, water always played an important role in my life. To dedicate my time to preserve the oceans, while being an expedition doctor on a Pacific crossing, is an absolute dream and I didn’t need to think long about joining The Swim. Together with Lauren and our on-shore medical team, I will take care of all people on board and monitor Ben during the swim. Also, we will lead the medical research projects, including imaging studies of Ben’s heart in collaboration with NASA.

Besides the safe and sound return of the crew, I hope that we make people think more about the use of plastic and the effects it is having on our planet.’

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5 comments

  1. Hi Maks,

    Tof om te lezen dat er ook een Nederlander meedoet aan deze geweldige tour de force!

    Ik wens jullie alle succes en gezondheid toe!

    Great endeavor on a scientific, nature and sporting level!

    Bonne chance!

    With kind regards from The Netherlands

    Frederik van Alkemade

    Ps must help that France are World Champion;-)

  2. Thanks for this interesting insight Maks. Yes, it is easy for someone sitting in front of a desk in a climate-controlled building most days, to think of the “glamour” aspect of being out on the open water on a sailing yacht in the warm sun all day. I reckon it must be tough and testing on everyone’s adaptability and mental and physical resilience.

  3. Thank you for sharing another aspect of the journey we don’t usually think of – the harsh effects on the skin and health. I hope you recover well Maks!

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