It is a known fact that animal bites typically occur especially among children. Dogs are known to cause most cases of animal bites in different parts of the globe. Other animals that bite humans include rodents, cats and even farm animals. The health risk after an animal bite is the possibility for an infection.
Bites from cats have the highest potential for infection since their sharp teeth can burrow deep into the tissues. An early indication of an infected bite is engorgement at the bite site especially the hand or finger. Various measures can help minimize the inflammation of an infected animal bite as well as reduce the possibility for complications.
How to recognize the symptoms of an animal bite infection
Identifying an animal bite infection
Always remember that the mouths of animals are laden with various microorganisms. Once introduced to the body via a bite, these bacteria can multiply, resulting to an infection. The hand and fingers face the highest risk for infection right after the animal bite.
This is due to the complex anatomy and poor blood supply to some of the deep tissues. The depth of the wound will determine the type of infection. As for superficial bites or scratches, they can cause cellulitis which is an infection of the upper skin layers.
For deeper bites, they can infect the bones or tendons of the finger. The indications of infection include redness, swelling as well as drainage of pus at the bite site, pain, reduced mobility and loss of circulation which makes the hand or finger bluish in color. Loss of sensation to the fingers, fevers, chills and night sweats can indicate a serious infection.
Treating the swelling
Treatment for swelling must be started to reduce the swelling. The initial step in controlling the swelling and infection after an animal bite is through proper cleansing of the wound.
You have to clean the wound using warm water and soap for about 5 minutes right after the bite to remove dirt and saliva that contains bacteria. In case the bite site is bleeding, apply direct pressure using a clean cloth or gauze and elevate to control the swelling.
You can scrub the wound in a gentle manner to help reduce the risk for swelling due to infection. Take note that the risk for swelling can be reduced by applying an antiseptic solution or antibiotic ointment after cleansing. Even anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can help manage the swelling of minor infections as well as treat fever and pain. You can prevent reinfection by covering the wound with sterile bandage or dressing. You can learn more about proper wound care by enrolling in a class on first aid today.
Prevent the complications of swelling
The swelling as well as the possible complications of an animal bite can be reduced by assessing the tissue damage. The doctor will request an X-ray to check if there is trauma to the bone. Other tests include an MRI to check the tendons for damage.
Severe swelling would require surgical intervention to reduce the pressure inside the hand or finger and properly cleanse the infection from the deeper tissues. In some cases, surgical exploration helps eliminate dead tissue, clots and damaged skin that can disrupt with the healing process. Antibiotics might be required to reduce the swelling and control the infection. A course of intravenous antibiotics is oftentimes prescribed to manage deep tissue infections.