Bite woundsCarola Felchner is a freelance writer in the NetDoktor medical editorial team and a certified training and nutrition consultant. She worked for various trade magazines and online portals before setting up her own business as a journalist in 2015. Before her traineeship she studied translation and interpreting in Kempten and Munich.
Bite wounds can be inflicted on you by an animal or a human being. In milder cases, only the skin is injured. Deep bite wounds, on the other hand, may additionally injure muscles, nerves, or bones. Whether deep or not – every bite wound can become infected, as a wide variety of germs cavort in the saliva of animals and humans. Therefore bite wounds should always be taken seriously. Read here how to give first aid in case of a bite wound.
What to do for bite wounds? First aid: clean, disinfect, sterilely cover, if necessary. Prere dressing in case of heavy bleeding, immobilization of the injured part of the body in case of snakebites. Bring affected person to the doctor or call rescue service. Bite wound risks: Wound infection, tie damage (z.B. on muscles, nerves, tendons, vessels or bones); symptoms of poisoning (in the case of bites by poisonous animals) When to see a doctor? In principle, every bite wound should be examined by a doctor and, if necessary, treated. be treated.
– Even light and seemingly harmless looking bite wounds can become infected. – In the worst case, a life-threatening blood poisoning, tetanus or rabies infection can develop! – A wound can become infected even days after the bite has occurred. Observe bite wounds for signs of inflammation (swelling, redness, overheating, etc.).).
Bite wound: What to do?
In the case of bite wounds, the extent of the injury influences how it is properly treated. In principle, a distinction is made between three degrees of severity:
Superficial skin damage, Lacerations and scratch wounds, possibly. Bruise Deeper skin wounds to the muscle skin (fascia), into the musculature or cartilage structures Wound with tie death (necrosis) or major tie damage (substance defect) However, it is hardly possible for laypersons to correctly assess the severity of a bite injury. Therefore, every bite wound should be considered an emergency. Be treated by a doctor. First of all, however, in the case of bite wounds First aid first aid:
– In the case of bite wounds that do not bleed very much (e.g., from dogs or cats), you should use the Clean the wound with water. – Afterwards the Disinfect the wound (if a suitable disinfectant for wounds is available) and Cover sterilely. – If you have a bite wound that is bleeding profusely, you should get a Prere dressingcreate. – In the case of a bite Venomous snake you should give the affected Immobilize part of the body. Then any injected snake venom may not spread as rapidly through the body. Also, remove tight-fitting clothing and jewelry near the wound (sleeves, rings, bracelets, etc).). The area around the bite wound can swell up considerably. – Bring the patient quickly to the Doctor respectively call the Rescue service.
Types of bite injuries
Depending on which animal bites, bite wounds usually have typical injury patterns. It also depends on the "perpetrator", how great the risk of wound infection is.
If a person bites, a ring-shaped impression with bruises and punctiform skin abrasions usually remains. There is a considerable risk of infection! Thus, an appropriately infected person can transmit AIDS pathogens (HIV) or hepatitis viruses (B or C) when bitten.
Cat bites are also very infectious. They can, for example, cause blood poisoning (sepsis) or transmit rabies. The bite of a cat typically leaves deep, puncture wounds, but they do not bleed much. The tie injuries can extend to the bone. In the case of cat bites on the hand, finger tendons and joints are often affected.
You can read more about this topic in the article Cat Bite.
Dogs usually bite a person on the hands and forearms, and in young children also on the face. Often it is a tear or. Crush wounds with ragged edges. Because the animals have pointed teeth and strong jaws, deeper injuries to muscles, tendons, vessels, nerves and/or bones are not uncommon. Possible wound infections after a dog bite are for example blood poisoning and rabies.
Read more about this topic in the article dog bite.
Rodents such as rats, mice, guinea pigs, squirrels or rabbits usually inflict only superficial bite wounds on you. Wound infection is rare here (z.B. rabies, tularemia = rabbit plague, rat bite fever).
Due to the flat teeth of the animals, crushing injuries (u. a. recognizable by the bruise) characteristic.
Typical of a snake bite wound are two bite points that bleed little. If a venomous snake has bitten and injected venom, symptoms of poisoning can vary in type and severity.
Read more about this topic in the article Snake bite.
Bite wound: risks
The greatest danger with a bite wound is the high risk of infection. In addition, the attacker may have caused severe tie damage to the victim. In the case of a poisonous snake bite, there is also a risk of poisoning.
Bite wound: Infection
The infection rate for cat and human bites is about 50 percent, for dog bites somewhat lower. Such wound infections are caused by the many germs contained in the saliva of animals and humans, which can enter the wound when biting.
However, the risk of infection in bite wounds is also high because the injuries are often underestimated and then not treated professionally. The risk is particularly high in the case of very deep and contaminated wounds and if the tie has been severely destroyed.
Depending on the pathogen, it can take several hours to several days for the symptoms of infection to appear. These may include redness, swelling and pain in the wound area. A purulent secretion may emerge from the wound. Fever and general malaise are other possible signs of wound infection.
Light bite wounds often only injure the superficial skin layer (epidermis). In contrast, deeper bites can cause much more severe damage. For example, the skin may detach from the tie underneath (dermabrasion/decollement). Often nerves, blood vessels, tendons, muscles and/or bones are also injured – sometimes with corresponding consequences.
In the case of nerve damage, for example, the patient may no longer be able to perceive temperature stimuli and touch in the affected body area as well (sensitivity disorders). Movement restrictions are also possible. Vascular injuries can cause bleeding into the tie. In the worst case, a body part is completely torn off by the bite, for example the hand or an ear.
Poisoning from snake bite
Not every bite from a venomous snake involves injecting venom into the bite wound. If this does happen, it depends on the type of snake venom and the amount injected, which health consequences it can have for the patient. For example, nerves can be damaged (for example, with paralysis symptoms), severe muscle pain and blood clotting disorders can occur. Often, the area around the bite site also swells, and the patient develops circulation problems.
Bite injuries: When to see a doctor?
You should always see a doctor with a bite wound. First, because only he can properly assess the extent of the injury. Second, because bite wounds can result in wound infection. If necessary or advisable, the doctor can immediately give the patient a vaccination against tetanus or rabies.
Bite wounds: Examinations by the doctor
In conversation with the patient resp. The doctor will first try to get an idea of how the injury occurred and the bite wound itself (anamnesis). He asks, for example, whether the animal has behaved conspicuously (rabies suspicion) and – in the case of pets – whether it has been vaccinated against rabies. It is also possible to learn about a known immune deficiency of the patient (z.B. In case of diabetes or cortisone therapy) as well as taking medication (such as blood thinners) the doctor should be informed.
This is followed by a physical examination. Among other things, the doctor checks how deep and dirty the wound is and whether there are signs of inflammation. Often he also takes a blood sample, among other things, to examine it for signs of infection. A wound swab can also be very informative: Any wound germs can be detected in the laboratory.
If there is a suspicion that the bite wound is associated with bone injuries, imaging techniques bring clarity (e.g.B. X-ray).
Bite wounds: Treatment by the doctor
The doctor will thoroughly clean and rinse light bite wounds (again). Then he closes it with plaster, staples or suture (Primary wound care).
Deep as well as infected wounds, on the other hand, are usually kept open for a while and cleaned several times before being closed (secondary wound care). This is to prevent an infection or to eliminate an existing infection first.
If necessary, the doctor will remove damaged, dead, or infected tie from the wound area before closing the wound (debridement).
Patients with deeper bite wounds are usually prescribed an antibiotic as a preventive measure. This reduces the risk of wound infection. In addition, the physician administers a rabies and/or tetanus vaccination if the patient does not have any vaccination protection and there is a corresponding risk of infection. Because rabies vaccination is costly and stressful for the affected person, an attempt is usually first made to determine the vaccination status of the person (human or animal) who caused the bite.
In the case of a snake bite, patients are often treated as inpatients. The injured body part is immobilized.