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
- 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.
Avoid these treatment measures
Avoid doing anything
that might cause more problems with the snake or lizard bite.
- Do not cut the bite
- Do not suck on the bite wound or use
any kind of extraction device.
- Do not use a
constriction band, such as a tourniquet or bandage, on a
- Do not soak your hand or foot in ice
water or pack your arm or leg in ice. This can increase damage to the skin and
cause a cold-induced injury, such as frostbite.
- Do not raise the bitten arm or leg above your head. This may increase the
flow of venom into the bloodstream.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Do not give any
prescription or nonprescription medicines after a poisonous snake or lizard
bite unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines, such as aspirin,
ibuprofen, or naproxen, may cause increased bleeding.