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Snake and Lizard Bites - Home Treatment

Nonpoisonous snake or lizard bite

If you are certain the snake or lizard was not poisonous, use home treatment measures to reduce symptoms and prevent infection.

  • Use direct pressure to stop any bleeding camera.gif.
  • Look at the wound to make sure a snake or lizard tooth is not in the wound. If you can see a tooth, remove it with tweezers, taking care to not push it farther into the wound.
  • Clean the bite as soon as possible to reduce the chance of infection, scarring, and tattooing of the skin from dirt left in the wound. Wash the wound for 5 minutes with large amounts of warm water and soap (mild dishwashing soap, such as Ivory, works well).
  • Do not use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or Mercurochrome, which can harm the tissue and slow wound healing.
  • Soak the wound in warm water for 20 minutes, 2 to 4 times a day, for the next 4 to 5 days. The warmth from the water will increase the blood flow to the area, which helps reduce the chance of infection.
  • Puncture wounds usually heal well and may not need a bandage. You may want to use a bandage if you think the bite will get dirty or irritated.
    • Clean the wound thoroughly before putting the bandage on it.
    • Apply a clean bandage when it gets wet or soiled. If a bandage is stuck to a scab, soak it in warm water to soften the scab and make the bandage easier to remove.
    • If available, use a nonstick dressing. There are many bandage products available.
    • Be sure to read the product label for correct use.
  • Use of an antibiotic ointment has not been shown to affect healing. If you choose to use an antibiotic ointment, such as polymyxin B sulfate (for example, Polysporin) or bacitracin, apply the ointment lightly to the wound. The ointment will keep the bandage from sticking to the wound. If a skin rash or itching under the bandage develops, stop using the ointment. The rash may be caused by an allergic reaction to the ointment.
  • Determine whether you need a tetanus shot.
  • An ice or cold pack may help reduce swelling and bruising. Never apply ice directly to a wound or the skin. This could cause tissue damage.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 06, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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