Human Bites in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

The biggest danger from a human bite is that it might get infected. Usually the wound will not be stitched. Taking good care of your child's wound at home will help it heal and reduce the chance of infection. The doctor may give your child antibiotics to prevent infection and a tetanus shot if your child has not had one in the last 5 years.

Your child's wound may heal in less than a week, or it may take longer, depending on how bad it is. The larger it is, the longer it will take to heal.

The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If your doctor told you how to care for your child's wound, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:
    • Wash the wound with clean water 2 times a day. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
    • You may cover the wound with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a non-stick bandage.
    • Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.
  • Your child's wound may itch or feel irritated. A little redness and swelling are normal. Teach your child to not scratch or rub the wound.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter pain medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • The skin near the bite turns cold or pale or it changes colour.
  • Your child loses feeling in the area near the bite, or it feels numb or tingly.
  • Your child has trouble moving a limb near the bite.
  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness near the wound.
    • Red streaks leading from the wound.
    • Pus draining from the wound.
    • A fever.
  • Blood soaks through the bandage. Oozing small amounts of blood is normal.
  • Your child's pain is getting worse.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child is not getting better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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