Health Tip: Don't Ignore an Animal Bite

Call a doctor if there are signs of infection

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

(HealthDay News) -- Animal bites can cause anything from a minor break in the skin to a serious puncture wound.

According to the Duke University Health System, all animal bites should be taken seriously, even if you're familiar with the animal.

Here are some basic tips for treating any kind of animal bite:

  • A bite from a wild animal -- such as a raccoon or squirrel -- could indicate that the animal was rabid. Consult a physician at once.
  • Calm and reassure the person. Wear latex gloves or wash hands before and after treating the wound.
  • If the wound is not bleeding, wash it with mild soap for 3 to 5 minutes. Use antibiotic ointment and dress the wound.
  • If the wound is bleeding, apply pressure and elevate the area.
  • If the bite is on the hands or fingers, call a doctor right away.
  • Observe the bite over the next day or two for signs of infection, including swelling, redness, and a discharge. If it becomes infected, call a physician immediately.


Last Updated: