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 treatment by
a doctor or a tetanus shot, you can clean and bandage a bite at home.
Stop the bleeding with direct pressure to the wound.
After you have stopped the bleeding, check your
symptoms to determine if and when you need to see your
Clean the wound
Clean the animal or human bite as
soon as possible to reduce the chance of infection and scarring.
- Wash the wound for 5 minutes with large amounts
of cool water and soap (mild dishwashing soap, such as Ivory, works well). Some nonprescription products are available for wound
cleaning that numb the area so cleaning doesn't hurt as much. Be sure to read
the product label for correct use.
- Don't use rubbing alcohol,
hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or Mercurochrome, which can harm the tissue and slow
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.
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.