Animal and Human Bites (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Check Your Symptoms
Minor animal and human bites usually can be treated at home. If you do not have an increased chance of getting an infection, do not have other injuries, and do not need evaluation by a doctor or a tetanus shot, you can clean and bandage a bite at home. Home treatment can prevent infection and promote healing.
To stop heavy bleeding, try firm, direct pressure on the wound. For more information, see how to stop bleeding.
After the bleeding has been stopped, check your symptoms to determine if and when you need to see your doctor.
Clean the wound
Clean the animal or human bite as soon as possible to reduce the chance of infection and scarring.
Some bites cause only bruising (contusions) at the bite site but do not break the skin. These bites usually do not become infected.
Stitches, staples, or skin adhesives (also called liquid skin)
Determine whether your bite needs to be treated by a doctor. Bites may need to be closed with sutures, staples, or skin adhesives so that they won't leave a large scar. Bites to the hand are not usually closed because closing the bite wound may increase your chance of having an infection. Cat bites are rarely closed because they are usually no larger than a puncture. For more information, see Are Stitches, Staples, or Skin Adhesives Necessary?
Your doctor will tell you how to take care of your stitches or staples and when to return to have them removed. Skin adhesives usually do not need to be removed, but your doctor may wish to see you to check on the wound. Be sure to carefully follow your doctor's instructions. If you are unsure of how to care for your wound or have questions, call your doctor for instructions.
Consider applying a bandage
Most bites heal well and may not need a bandage. You may need to protect the bite from dirt and irritation. Be sure to clean the bite thoroughly before bandaging it to reduce the risk of infection occurring under the bandage.
An ice or cold pack may help reduce swelling and bruising. Never apply ice directly to a wound or the skin. This could cause tissue damage.
After the bite
Many states require that animal control authorities be notified of animal bites. Even if your state law does not require you to report animal bites, you may wish to call animal control to report the bite. They can help you determine whether the animal that bit you:
If you are unable to find a phone number for animal control in the front pages of the telephone book, contact the police or sheriff's office for the number.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
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