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Human bites
Human bites


Definition:

Human bites are usually caused by one person biting another, although they may result from a situation in which one person comes into contact with another person's teeth.

In a fight, for example, one person's knuckles may come into contact with another person's teeth, and if the impact breaks the skin, the injury would be considered a bite.



Alternative Names:

Bites - human



Considerations:

Human bites that break the skin, like all puncture wounds, have a high risk of infection. They also pose a risk of injury to tendons and joints.

Bites are very common among young children. Children often bite to express anger or other negative feelings.

Human bites may be more dangerous than most animal bites. There are germs in some human mouths that can cause hard-to-treat infections. If you have an infected human bite, especially on the hand, you may need to be admitted to the hospital to receive antibiotics through a vein (intravenously). In some cases, surgery may be needed.



Causes:



Symptoms:

Bites may produce symptoms ranging from mild to severe:

  • Skin breaks with or without bleeding
  • Puncture wounds
  • Major cuts
  • Crushing injuries


First Aid:
  1. Calm and reassure the person. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap.
  2. If the area is NOT bleeding severely, wash the wound with mild soap and running water for 3 to 5 minutes and then cover the bite with a clean dressing.
  3. If the area is actively bleeding, apply direct pressure with a clean, dry cloth until the bleeding is controlled. Raise the area.
  4. Get medical attention.


Do Not:
  • DO NOT ignore any human bite, especially if it is bleeding.
  • DO NOT put the wound into your mouth.


Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if:

All human bites that break the skin should be promptly evaluated by a doctor. Bites may be especially serious when:

  • There is swelling, redness, pus draining from the wound, or pain
  • The bite occurred near the eyes or involved the face, hands, wrists, or feet
  • The person who was bitten has a weakened immune system (for example, from HIV or receiving chemotherapy for cancer) -- the person is at a higher risk for the wound to become infected


Prevention:
  • Teach young children not to bite others.
  • NEVER put your hand near or in the mouth of someone who is having a seizure .


References:

Brook I. Management of human and animal bite wounds: an overview. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2005 May;18(4):197-203.

Weber EJ. Mammalian Bites. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2006: chap. 58.




Review Date: 6/9/2008
Reviewed By: John E. Duldner, Jr., MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Director of Research, Department of Emergency Medicine Akron General Medical Center and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100