If you’ve been bitten by an animal then this can be a very painful experience and cause a nasty wound. At the same time though it can also present a health risk depending on the animal and it can sometimes lead to infections and other problems. Thus it is important to treat the wound rapidly and correctly to avoid a range of problems from developing.
Here we will look at how to achieve that.
Should You See a Doctor?
The first thing to consider is whether or not you should see a doctor. Home remedies are a great way to treat yourself while waiting for more medical intervention, and they are fine for smaller bites. You may also be required to treat a bite yourself if you are not able to get to a doctor. However if you are losing a lot of blood or the bite is in a dangerous place then it is important to see a doctor. Further if you do not know the animal and you are concerned about the possibility of tetanus then you should see a doctor in order to give you an injection against this infection. Another reason to see a doctor is that you might be suffering from a poison or an allergic reaction. As such, look out for any unusual symptoms such as swelling, redness, or shortness of breath which might point to a dangerous reaction.
Sitting the Patient Down
The first thing you should do in any such scenario is to make sure that the patient is safe and away from the animal. From there you should sit them down, and elevate the wounded area above the heart. Sitting them down is important as it will prevent them falling over which can occur as a result of shock or blood loss. Raising the wound will reduce bleeding.
Once you have done this you may want to treat the shock – ask the patient to control their breathing and put their head between their legs if necessary. You may also want to provide them with a sugary drink in order to replace any lost blood sugar and return some colour to them. A hot sugary tea is a good option in this scenario.
Cleaning the Wound
If you are going to deal with the bite yourself then the first thing you need to do is to clean and dress the wound. Start by washing the wound under cold water, and then disinfecting. To disinfect the wound you should use either a disinfectant cream, or a saline solution of water and salt. This will kill off any bacteria that could otherwise get inside the wound. Make sure to regularly disinfect the area to prevent problems from arising later.
Stopping the Bleeding
To stop or slow down the bleeding you should try pressing on the wound with a tissue or cloth. If this doesn’t work and a lot of blood is still coming, then you should tie a bandage or some cloth loosely just above the wound. This will help to stifle blood low resulting in less loss. Don’t make it too tight though or you can cause further damage.
Dressing the Wound
Once the wound is cleaned you should dress it by wrapping it in a bandage or plaster depending on its size. This will further prevent blood loss (and mess) while simultaneously protecting the wound from damage to allow a scab to form.
If the victim is in a lot of pain then they may require some form of anaesthetic to address this. Here you can use paracetamol or ibuprofen (which will also reduce any swelling as an anti-inflammatory) but you should avoid aspirin which will thin the blood and prevent a scab from forming.
Once the wound has been dressed the patient should take it easy and keep the area elevated. Pay attention and look out for any potential symptoms of a reaction or infection, and make sure to keep changing the dressing and giving the wound some air.