Snake Bites: Care Instructions

Skip to the navigation

Your Care Instructions

You have been bitten by a snake. Most snakes are not poisonous. If the snake that bit you was poisonous, you may have been treated with antivenom. Sometimes, a snake bites but does not inject venom. Taking good care of the wound at home will help it heal quickly and reduce your chance of infection.

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

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor prescribed medicine, take it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • If your doctor told you how to care for your wound, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:
    • Wash the area with clean water 2 times a day. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
    • You may cover the bite 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.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Some pain is normal with a snake bite, but do not ignore pain that is getting worse instead of better. You could have an infection.

When should you call for help?

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

  • You have pain at or near the bite that is getting worse.
  • You have more pain when you move the area of your body where the bite is located.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the bite.
    • Pus draining from the bite.
    • A fever.
  • The bite starts to bleed, and blood soaks through the bandage. Oozing small amounts of blood is normal.
  • You have a fever and chills.
  • You get a rash or severe itching.
  • You get severe muscle or joint aches.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • You have numbness and tingling.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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

Enter N580 in the search box to learn more about "Snake Bites: Care Instructions."