Human Bites (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
What Is the Treatment for Human Bites?
Treatment of a human bite can be anything from just ice packs for swelling (no skin breakage) to surgery, depending on the seriousness of the bite. For serious bites, early treatment is important to give the best chance at preventing infection.
What Are the Home Remedies for Human Bites?
First aid for a bite usually just involves cleaning the area and applying ice for pain relief. Bites generally do not bleed a large amount, but, if they do, put direct pressure on the area for 10 minutes, which should stop the bleeding. Elevation of the injured area above the level of the heart may also help stop bleeding and prevent swelling of the wound.
What Is the Medical Treatment for Human Bites?
Minor bites: A bite that just causes bruising or only scrapes the top layer of skin will not require much more than cleaning with soap and water, ice, and mild pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). A tetanus shot may be needed if the skin is broken and the patient has not had a booster tetanus in the last five years. Antibiotics are usually not necessary for this type of bite.
Deeper bites or bites causing cuts: Besides giving a tetanus shot when appropriate, the doctor will generally numb these bites with medicine (such as lidocaine) and then thoroughly clean and examine the wound. Cleaning of the wound, unless it is a puncture wound or very small, will usually involve squirting a large amount of clean water into the wound. With an open wound, sometimes large amounts of water directly from the tap are used to flush it out. Occasionally, a small amount of an antiseptic solution is added to the water before rinsing the wound, or skin around the wound. In the cleaning process, the doctor may cut out small pieces of tissue that appear to be dead. This helps decrease the risk of infection.
Stitches (sutures): The decision to use or not use stitches in a human bite depends on many factors. Doctors tend to use stitches less often in cuts caused by human bites because of the high risk of infection, especially from mouth to bacteria that may thrive in injured or dying or dead tissue (devitalized tissues). On the other hand, certain bites, especially those of the face, may turn out better if stitches are used, and the risk of infection in this area is not that high. Some stitches may only "loosely" close the wound to help the bite wound drain, but not provide an environment for growth areas for mouth bacteria.
Other treatment: The doctor may apply a splint to the bite area to keep it from moving. A sling may be used to help keep an injured hand elevated. Pain medication may be prescribed.
The doctor may suggest prophylaxis against HIV transmission in the form of medications.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/28/2016
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Human Bites - Experience
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Human Bites - Cause
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Human Bites - Self Care at Home
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Human Bites - Medical Treatment
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