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How to treat swelling after an animal bite

Animal bites are common among children. Cats, rodents and some farm animals can also bite humans and can cause an infection. Cat bites are the most dangerous since their sharp teeth burrow deep into the tissues. One of the first signs of symptoms is swelling of the affected area.

The mouth of the animals are full of germs and when they enter the human body through a bite, these bacteria begins to grow and will result to infections. Take note that the hands and fingers are susceptible to infections after a bite.

A surface bite or scratch can result in cellulitis which is an infection of the superficial skin layer. A deep bite can cause infection of the tendons or the bones of the finger, and there is swelling, redness and pus at the site of the bite. There is the presence of red streaks that extends from the affected area and it causes pains and a decrease of mobility of the fingers as well as loss of circulation caused by swelling which make the fingers look pale or blue. When it comes to a serious finger infection, the individual can experience the loss of sensation of the fingers, chills, fever and night sweating.

Animal bites

When controlling the bleeding, apply pressure on the wound with a clean cloth, then elevating the wound above the level of the heart to stop the flow of blood.

Treatment of animal bites

1.    The first step in preventing swelling and infection is cleaning the wound, using antibacterial soap and warm water to remove saliva and bacteria. Wash the wound a second time using povidine or bacitracin solution, and then apply antibiotic ointment to the affected areas and its surroundings in preventing bacteria found in the skin from entering the wound. If you want to learn how to manage infections, click here.

2.    When controlling the bleeding, apply pressure on the wound with a clean cloth, then elevating the wound above the level of the heart to stop the flow of blood. The flow of blood should stop within 15 minutes and the bleeding will remove some of the saliva and bacteria present in the wound.

3.    Cover the wound with sterile gauze if the bleeding has stopped. Make sure that it is tight enough to hold pressure on the wound to prevent bleeding.

4.    When bleeding has stopped, bandage the wound with a clean gauze and then tape with an adhesive medical tape.

5.    Start the treatment of antibiotics. The antibiotics will overcome the infection within 24 hours and the red lines coming from the affected area should disappear within 48 hours.

Some complications like fever, swollen lymph glands, abscesses, swelling of the affected area and those that require drainage need medical care. A severe case of osteomyelitis can happen in the wrist, hand or elbow. When a child places his/her face of the cat, it can result to a bone fracture from the bite and can be considered dangerous.

Tips to bear in mind

If a person or a child sustained an animal bite, he/she should immediately seek medical care to reduce the risk of complications that is caused by an infection.

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