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Moonshine or Magic?

By Nigel MW Caddock

Over the years there have been dozens of lotions and potions often promising just about everything from curing the bone in your leg - to world peace!

As is usually the case the best products are those that deliver without hype or fuss but quietly emerge to be the best in their fields simply by getting the job done. In the Spring issue (pages 70 & 71) we reviewed a wound treatment we, and others, had found to work. It was a two pronged treatment consisting of a regenerative hormone cream used in conjunction with an aerosol spray sealer. We have been experimenting with another product and after consultation with four or five key NI Koi friends who have also been trying the product - the jury is back!

All Koi Keepers know that when Koi get damaged it's always tough to know exactly when to intervene. Too soon and we risk irritating a wound that may just clear up on its own, too late and a minor wound becomes a major wound and an even bigger problem. For Koi professionals there is no choice - their stocking levels are such that any physical damage is potentially serious so they often treat immediately. For Koi hobbyists the problem is often not so clear cut. When we do decide to take action its vital that all the necessary tools for effective treatment are available to us and one area of physical wound treatment that has consistently caused generations of Koi Keepers problems is the simple requirements for a wound dressing that stays on for more than thirty seconds! As we all know most evaporate almost on contact with water and even more sophisticated concoctions at best last only a few hours. Any wound is a potential access point for pathogenic bacteria and in an aquatic environment this is a serious potential problem as Koi ponds contain significant levels of bacteria, so we need to be very effective at keeping wounds as free from attack as possible. The real problem is that this apparently simple task is, in reality, much easier said than done.

moonshine1.jpg (13368 bytes)There are a barrage of proprietary products all offering some degree of protection and some are much better than others but the truth is that most disperse within a few minutes and all but a few are gone in hours. But how much of this is down to the sealer and how much down to inappropriate application? Some of the best we have come across are moonshine preparations concocted by crazy Koi Keepers seeking the magic potion that would succeed where everyone else has failed. Over the years we have progressed from Mercurochrome, to mercurochrome in alcohol, to malachite green, gentian violet, friars balsam, aloe vera, cumfry, gentamycin spray and all manner of combinations that work with varying degrees of success. One of the most effective is a combination of malachite green and friars balsam but getting it to stick has always been a major headache.

Our Spring issue Scaling Down feature generated a lot of positive feedback and also highlighted the lack of information of effective application of wound dressings in general so we believe that it would be useful to give more details about how to successfully apply wound sealers and at the same time introduce a new one that has also impressed us. The product is manufactured in South Africa and called KOI DOC wound dressing. When we first looked at it we thought it was just another wound dressing so we left it in our treatment box and did nothing. However, one of the NI Koi picked up a small wound and having discussed the problem with a colleague who recommended KOI DOC wound dressing we decided to try it out. We were impressed with its performance and, in particular, its amazing adhesive properties.

The product contains bee propolis and dexpanthenol which are together designed to promote granular epithelialisation and hasten natural cell repair. It also smells of malachite green and friars balsam but performs infinitely better than a simple mix of those two which we have used previously.

As the application process we used on KOI DOC wound dressing is highly relevant we believe it would be useful to detail the key elements.

Make sure the wound is completely dry - One of the key points about the successful application of any topical dressing or waterproof wound sealer is the fundamental necessity for appropriate application. It's absolutely no use applying any dressing onto a wet surface. Waterproof dressings are only waterproof after they are applied and in order to give any dressing the maximum opportunity of adhering it is necessary to get the wound as dry as possible. The mechanism of bonding is penetration and tissue attachment, and in the case of KOI DOC it is designed to encourage the formation of a layer of transparent protective epithelial cells which protect the wound and promote tissue repair. It follows that if the dressing is unable to penetrate the tissue of the Koi because it has a coating of water, as soon as the Koi is returned to the water the dressing simply washes off. It is often the case that a perfectly good wound dressing is labelled useless simply because it has been applied incorrectly! So if you are one of the dab and go brigade before you do anything else it may be worth reviewing your topical dressing application technique.

If you have a hair dryer that can operate without the heating element they are ideal for this job, but it's vital that any hair dryer used is capable of blowing cold air. IMPORTANT - Under no circumstances use the hair dryer blowing hot air as it can cause serious damage to delicate skin tissue. Also make sure any electrical appliance used anywhere near moisture is protected by an RCD (residual current device). In addition, if you can get hold of a hair dryer with one of those fluted styling nozzles that's even better as it enables the air to be really accurately directed to the wound site. The gentle blowing action of a hair dryer blowing cold air also has two advantages. First, it gets the job done quickly thus helping to minimize the total treatment time and so the time the Koi is out of the pond and second, as the air current is highly directional it enables you to be able to dry specifically the area to be treated not the surrounding skill which is best left wet. If you don't have a suitable hair dryer you can also use a Secoh or other air pump and by directing the airflow with a length of airline this also does a good drying job.

moonshine2.jpg (12784 bytes)The combined use of dabbing action with absorbent but robust kitchen roll (avoid using tissues as they often disintegrate as they absorb water and start sticking in clumps to the Koi) and cold air soon get the site to be treated dry and ready for application of the wound sealer. We highly recommend you work on this wound preparation as it is absolutely vital.

Apply the wound dressing in layers - One of the main mistakes made in applying topical dressings is dab & go syndrome. As it's natural for us to want to get the Koi back in the pond as soon as possible we often rush the treatment process. It's common for Koi Keepers to simply nominally wipe the wound site, slap on the topical dressing and get the Koi back into the pond as fast as possible. Consider that we have already taken the decision to anaesthetize the Koi and treat the fish - if the treatment is ineffective our efforts have been wasted. It makes sense that if you take the decision to treat your Koi, treat them effectively.

Once the wound site is dry apply a primary coat of wound dressing. When that is in place re-dry the dressed wound site and apply a second coat. Repeat this process for two or three times so at the end of the process there are several layers of applied dressing all dried and in place before returning the Koi to the pond. It is important that this is not overdone; all dressings are chemical based and must not be overused - it's a fine line between just enough and too much - so take care!

Koi Doc wound dressing has an additional advantage in that it comes in a pipette style dispenser similar to a water test kit reagent dispenser so its easy to both accurately direct the application nozzle and control how much of the sealer is applied. It follows that the very best results will be achieved when not only do we use the best wound dressing but also deploy them using the most effective application techniques. Effective wound sealing is an important component in effective Koi health management and it's well worth adding this information to your armory so when you need it you've got it!!

Like many things in Koi keeping the best solutions often rely on smart teamwork; in this case a good sealer and sound application technique get the job done.

KOI DOC is available from Infiltration (01942 724896) and on the Internet from Koi Keeper.com. In addition we also hear that the products identified in our Spring issue Scaling Down feature will also be available on this great web site soon.