Snake Bites in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Most snakes are not poisonous. If the snake that bit your child was poisonous, your child 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 the chance of infection.

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 the doctor prescribed medicine for your child, give it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • 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 area 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.
  • Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for a fever and pain. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not give your child 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 pay attention if your child's pain seems to be getting worse instead of better. Your child could have an infection.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child has pain at or near the bite that is getting worse.
  • Your child has 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.
  • Your child gets a rash or severe itching.
  • Your child gets severe muscle or joint aches.
  • Your child has blood in his or her urine.
  • Your child has numbness and tingling.

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

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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

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