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When should I see a doctor for an animal bite?

ANSWER

You may need an antibiotic to prevent infection. Call your doctor or head to the emergency room if:

  • The bite was caused by an animal you don’t know, or by any wild animal like a raccoon, skunk, or bat. You may need a tetanus or rabies vaccine.
  • The bite is large, or it doesn’t stop bleeding after you’ve put pressure on it for 15 minutes. It may need to be closed with stitches.
  • You think the bite may have damaged a bone, tendons, or nerves, because you can’t bend or straighten the body part or you’ve lost feeling in it.
  • The wound is red, swollen, or oozing fluid.

From: First Aid Tips WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

911.gov: “When to call 911.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Poison ivy: Tips for treating and preventing.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “First Aid: Burns,” “First Aid: Cuts, Scrapes, and Stitches.”

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Animal Bites,” “Sprained Ankle,” “Sprains and Strains: What’s the Difference?”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Caring for Insect Bites and Stings,” “First Aid for Burns.”

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Insect Venom.”

American College of Emergency Physicians: “Home First Aid Kit,” “Is it an emergency?”

American Red Cross: “Ten Common First Aid Mistakes.”

CDC: “Tetanus: Who Needs to be Vaccinated?” “Venomous spiders.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Nosebleed (Epistaxis),” “Scars.”

Intermountain Healthcare: “Wound Care: Home Instructions.”

Medscape: “Animal bites in emergency medicine treatment & management.”

National Health Service: “Treating insect bites and stings.”

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: “What are Sprains and Strains?”

Nemours Foundation: “Emergency Contact Sheet,” “First-Aid Kit,” “First Aid: Spider Bites,” “Nosebleeds,” “Splinters,” “The Story on Scars.”

Oregon Health Authority: “Antibiotics, Topical Review.”

Penn Medicine: “How to remove a splinter.”

Seattle Children’s Hospital: “Cuts, Scrapes or Bruises (Skin Injury).”

Skin Cancer Foundation: “Five Ways to Treat a Sunburn.”

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Hot Tips: First Aid for Burns,” “Taking Care of Cuts and Scrapes.”

UpToDate: “Animal Bites.”

FDA: “Outsmarting Poison Ivy and Other Poisonous Plants.”

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on December 18, 2016

SOURCES:

911.gov: “When to call 911.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Poison ivy: Tips for treating and preventing.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “First Aid: Burns,” “First Aid: Cuts, Scrapes, and Stitches.”

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Animal Bites,” “Sprained Ankle,” “Sprains and Strains: What’s the Difference?”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Caring for Insect Bites and Stings,” “First Aid for Burns.”

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Insect Venom.”

American College of Emergency Physicians: “Home First Aid Kit,” “Is it an emergency?”

American Red Cross: “Ten Common First Aid Mistakes.”

CDC: “Tetanus: Who Needs to be Vaccinated?” “Venomous spiders.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Nosebleed (Epistaxis),” “Scars.”

Intermountain Healthcare: “Wound Care: Home Instructions.”

Medscape: “Animal bites in emergency medicine treatment & management.”

National Health Service: “Treating insect bites and stings.”

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: “What are Sprains and Strains?”

Nemours Foundation: “Emergency Contact Sheet,” “First-Aid Kit,” “First Aid: Spider Bites,” “Nosebleeds,” “Splinters,” “The Story on Scars.”

Oregon Health Authority: “Antibiotics, Topical Review.”

Penn Medicine: “How to remove a splinter.”

Seattle Children’s Hospital: “Cuts, Scrapes or Bruises (Skin Injury).”

Skin Cancer Foundation: “Five Ways to Treat a Sunburn.”

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Hot Tips: First Aid for Burns,” “Taking Care of Cuts and Scrapes.”

UpToDate: “Animal Bites.”

FDA: “Outsmarting Poison Ivy and Other Poisonous Plants.”

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on December 18, 2016

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How do I treat bee, wasp, and other insect stings?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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