Animal and human bites
Most animal bites are not severe, but you might require medical help if you feel the bite was ferocious or if there are any signs of infection after the bite.
Things to do after an animal or human bites
- Clean around the skin wound with warm water and soap; you can also use antiseptic, but avoid getting it in the wound.
- Try and remove any objects like hair, dirt, or teeth from the wound just by using running water.
- Gently squeeze the wound so it can bleed slightly (unless it is bleeding already), which can help reduce the risks of developing an infection.
- Press a clean cloth or dry dressing firm onto the wound to stop the bleeding; if you are bleeding heavily.
- Gently pat, dry, and cover it with a clean dressing after cleaning the wound.
- Take painkillers like paracetamol to help ease any pain and swelling, but children under 16 shouldn’t take aspirin.
Animal and human bites treatments
For animal and human bits, a doctor or nurse will:
- Clean the bite thoroughly; if the wound is dirty, and might also remove some of the skin to lower the infection risk.
- Close the wound with sticky strips, special glue, or stitches, or even leave it open to heal better.
- Give more some antibiotics to stop infections.
- Check your risks of developing rabies or tetanus.
- The doctor will also check for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C if it’s a human bit.
Consult a doctor if
- You think there might be objects like hair, teeth, or dirt in the wound.
- The bite is swollen or hot (it can also be painful, darker, or red than the surrounding skin)
- You have a high temperature
- Fluids are leaking from the bite
- Bite smells unpleasant
- The bite is on your feet or hand
- A person bit you
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022