Wilderness: Marine Bite (cont.)
Marine Animal Bite Treatment
- All bite wounds require immediate thorough cleansing with plenty of fresh tap water. Gently scrub the wound with soap and water to remove foreign material. If a syringe is available, it should be used to provide high-pressure irrigation. Remove dead tissue with a sterile scissors or scalpel.
- After cleansing, apply a topical bacitracin ointment 3 times per day.
- Wounded extremities should be immobilized and elevated.
- Puncture wounds and bites are usually not sutured (stitched) unless they involve the face.
- Oral antibiotics are usually recommended to prevent infection. If infection develops, continue antibiotics for at least 5 days after all signs of infection have cleared. Check for drug allergy prior to starting any antibiotic. A doctor can recommend the right antibiotic. Some antibiotics can cause increased sensitivity to the sun, so use a sunscreen (at least SPF 15).
- Relieve pain with 1-2 tablets of acetaminophen (Tylenol) 325-500 mg pain relievers every 4 hours and/or 1-2 tablets of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) 200 mg every 6-8 hours.
When to Seek Medical Care for Marine Animal Bites
- All but the mildest bite wounds require prompt medical attention.
- Consult a doctor about treatment with available medications.
Medically reviewed by a Board Certified Family Practice Physician
"Initial management of animal and human bites"
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/27/2016
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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