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Animal Bites (cont.)

What Is the Treatment for Animal Bites?

The treatment of animal bites, after initial inspection, irrigation, debridement, and possibly closure depends on many factors, the doctor's experience, preference, and the type of wound and location of the wound.

What Are the Home Remedies for Animal Bites?

Thoroughly clean the wound by washing with soap and tap water as soon as possible. Never use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on a wound. While hydrogen peroxide was used for years, medical studies have shown that it is harmful to a wound and slows or inhibits the healing process. A light scrubbing should occur during the wash. Then put a clean and dry bandage over the area. This treatment should not replace proper evaluation by a doctor.

Are Antibiotics Used for Animal Bite Treatment?

If antibiotics are prescribed, it is important to recognize that they are not used to treat an infection. They are used to try to prevent infection. The trend toward prescribing and using fewer antibiotics continues, and therefore, the patient may not be given antibiotics, but instead told to monitor the wound closely for any signs or symptoms of infection.

  • Bites that generally warrant antibiotics are these:
    • Cat bites with a deep puncture
    • A wound that required tissue removal (debridement)
    • A heavily contaminated wound
    • Bites in elderly
    • Bites in people with underlying chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes)
  • Those bites to areas with good blood supply (the face) generally do not require antibiotics.
  • The most common antibiotics prescribed are amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin) or a combination of two medications, amoxicillin and cephalexin (Keflex). Other antibiotics used include erythromycin, co-trimoxazole (Bactrim), and azithromycin (Zithromax).
  • If used in the initial period, a five day course of antibiotics is generally adequate, although some recommend only three days and some seven days. These rules change if you are actively treating an infection, or if the bite was particularly dirty or contaminated.

Most bite wounds are treated with over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin). Occasionally, the doctor may prescribe a stronger pain medication for the short-term control of pain from the bite.

What Is the Medical Treatment for Animal Bites?

Patient Comments

Depending on the status of the bite wound, local wound care varies.

If the wound was sutured on the first visit, then the wound should be kept clean and dry. Showers are permitted, but the area should be dried by patting it softly to avoid disrupting the sutures. No baths or submersion of a sutured wound should occur until the stitches are removed and the patient it told it is allowed.

If the wound was left open, then the doctor may recommend daily soaks or other treatments.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/10/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Animal Bites:

Animal Bites - Type and Treatment

What kind of animal bit you, and what was the treatment?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Animal Bites »

Because many animal bites are never reported, determining the exact incidence of animal bite wounds in the United States, let alone the world, is difficult.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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