Puncture wounds from animal bites must be monitored carefully

People who are bitten by an animal are at risk of many different things. The bite wounds can leave scarring, which is a life-changing event for people who are bitten on high visibility areas of the body, such as the face. There is also a chance of the wound becoming infected, which could be painful and costly.

An animal's mouth is full of bacteria. When a person is bitten, this bacteria can be pushed down into the wound. Unfortunately, inside of a puncture wound from the tooth is a perfect place for the bacteria to flourish. The area is warm, moist, and dark, so it is usually best not to have these puncture wounds sutured closed because that will create a haven for the bacteria.

When you are bitten by an animal, rinsing the area thoroughly is usually one of the first things that needs to happen. Even though it will likely cause you pain, this can flush the bacteria out of the wounds. This could help you reduce the risk of contracting an infection.

You should be aware of the signs that can clue you into an infection. These include the area around the bites becoming warmer than normal or red. You might run a fever or feel increased pain at the wound site. The punctures might drain more than they did before or you might see red streaks coming from the wounds.

If you notice any signs of an infected animal bite, you need to seek medical attention right away. The sooner you get started on antibiotics, the better you might fare. In fact, it is usually best to have the wound evaluated right after the bite occurs so that you can find out if you need precautionary medications.

Source: American Society for Surgery of the Hand, "Animal Bites," accessed June 14, 2018

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