How to Care for Your Child with a Bite Wound

This leaflet will provide you with information about bite wounds, their treatment and home care advice.

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What is bite wound?

A bite wound it is when your child receive a bite either from animal or human, and it is common in children.

  • Most animal bites are caused by cats and dogs.
  • Human bites commonly can occur when children bite each other while playing.
  • Serious infections such as rabies and tetanus are extremely uncommon in Qatar

What are the different types of bites?

  • Bites can be classified based on the animal causing the bite, such as dogs, cats, rodents or human bites
  • Humans and animals do have harmful bacteria in their mouths, which can cause infection, especially when the skin is breached. These infections are rarely serious if managed promptly, but sometimes bacteria can enter the body and cause severe infections                            
  • Rabies is more likely to be carried by animals with fur. Animals without fur (besides humans) cannot carry rabies.

How is a bite treated?

This depends on the size of the bite wound. The doctor will ask a few questions about your child’s health and examine your child.

The treatment options may include:

  • Washing, cleaning the bite wound and removing any damaged tissue
  • Giving antibiotics
  • Giving booster dose of tetanus or/and rabies vaccine
  • Sometimes x-ray may be required if bites are severe enough to cause a broken bone or there is suspicion of foreign bodies - like teeth- within the wound.
  • Some bites require regular and close follow up in a specialized clinic. This will be arranged and you will be advised if your child’s condition requires a follow up.
  • If your child is bitten by a person known to have certain disease like HIV or hepatitis, there is a small risk of transmission of the infection if the bite is contaminated with blood, so your child may be offered specific treatment to reduce the chance of becoming infected.

Home care advice

Immediately seek medical advice if your child gets bitten by an animal or human.

Bites on the hands or face, or joints can cause serious problems such as serious infections if left without treatment.

  • Immediately rinse the wound by running warm tap water over it for at least 10 minutes
  • Remove any objects from the wound, such as hair, teeth or dirt
  • Encourage the wound to bleed by gently squeezing the wound
  • If the wound is bleeding heavily, put a clean pad over it and apply gentle pressure, then dry the wound and apply a plaster
  • You can give simple pain medicine like
    • Paracetamol (any brand) or Ibuprofen (any brand)   
    • Follow the instruction on the medicine package for the correct dose for your child
    • Do not give your child Aspirin as this can cause serious problems
  • Ensure you attend any follow-up appointment as advised.

When should I seek medical advice?

Seek medical advice if your child is:

  • Bitten or scratched by a wild animal such as snake or fox
  • Bitten and your child has diabetes or liver disease or other chronic illness
  • Bleeding from the bite wound
  • Not fully vaccinated

Go to the Emergency Department if your child:

  • Bite’s injury has severed a body part like a finger, clean it with warm tap water, cover it in clean tissue, and keep it in a plastic bag surrounded by ice. Then take it to a local emergency department.
  • Has ongoing bleeding from a bite wound
  • Is bitten around the joint and can’t bend the joint easily
  • Has redness and swelling in the wounded area
  • Has extreme pain
  • Has pus around the wound
  • Has a fever of 37. 8C or above
  • Is feeling unwell
  • Has red streaks extending along the skin from the wound