Snakebite Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on March 16, 2024
1 min read
  • There is any chance that the snake is venomous
  • The person has difficulty breathing
  • There is loss of consciousness

If you know the snake is not venomous, treat as a puncture wound.

  • Be ready to describe the snake to emergency staff.

While waiting for medical help:

  • Move the person beyond striking distance of the snake.
  • Have the person lie down with wound below the heart.
  • Keep the person calm and at rest, remaining as still as possible to keep venom from spreading.
  • Cover the wound with loose, sterile bandage.
  • Remove any jewelry from the area that was bitten.
  • Remove shoes if the leg or foot was bitten.

Do not:

  • Cut a bite wound
  • Attempt to suck out venom
  • Apply tourniquet, ice, or water
  • Give the person alcohol or caffeinated drinks or any other medications

If you treat the bite at home:

  • Contact a healthcare provider. The person may need a tetanus shot. Tetanus boosters should be given every 10 years.

At the hospital, treatment will depend on the type of snake.

  • If the snake was venomous, the person will be given anti-venom treatment.
  • A tetanus shot may be given, depending on the date of the last injection.