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Snake and Lizard Bites - Home Treatment

Poisonous snake or lizard bite

If you were bitten by a snake or lizard that you know or think is poisonous, call911or other emergency services immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to develop. Symptoms may progress from mild to severe rapidly.

If you are not sure what type of snake or lizard bit you, take a picture of it. But do not do this if it will delay treatment or put someone at risk for more bites. Do not waste time or take any risks trying to kill or bring in the snake. Only trap a poisonous snake if the chances are good that it will bite more people if you let it go. It is important to remember that a snake only injects part of its venom with each bite, so it can still hurt you after the first strike. And a dead snake, even one with a severed head, can bite and release venom by reflex action for up to 90 minutes after it dies.

Medicine (antivenom) to counteract the effects of the poison can save a limb or your life. Antivenom is given as soon as a doctor determines it is needed, usually within the first 4 hours after the snakebite. Antivenom may be effective up to 2 weeks or more after a snakebite.

Immediate home treatment

Immediate home treatment should not delay transport for emergency evaluation.

  • If you think the snake bite is an emergency, call 911.
  • Remain calm and try to rest quietly.
  • If you are not sure what type of snake or lizard bit you, call a Poison Control Center immediately to help identify the snake or lizard and find out what to do next.
  • Remove any jewelry. The limbs might swell, making it harder to remove the jewelry after swelling begins.
  • Use a pen to mark the edge of the swelling around the bite every 15 minutes. This will help your doctor estimate how the venom is moving in your body.
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