Wound Management for Bites

Bites can commonly occur from animals like dogs and cats that your child plays with. Sometimes they can also occur from humans when accidental injuries occur during play.


What are bite wounds?

Animal bites are common, most often from cats, dogs and marine animals. Similarly, human bites often occur accidentally. There are multiple pathogens and bacteria associated with bites, but fortunately they are easily treatable.

What should be done at home?

The injury should first be thoroughly washed to remove as much pathogen and debris as possible. Following this, you should bring your child to have the wound accurately assessed for the nature of injury – superficial laceration, puncture wound, or a deeper crush injury involving deeper structures.

What is done in the clinic / hospital?

Some signs like swelling, redness, pain and discharge are warning signs of infection and should also be formally assessed. Some superficial lacerations may potentially be treated with oral and topical antibiotics. However, for deeper wounds, timely intervention with debridement of the contaminated wound edges and thorough high-pressure irrigation by a surgeon will ensure optimal recovery and reducing complications. A wound culture will be taken at the same time to assess for the optimal antibiotic treatment. Occasionally if the wound is deemed to be heavily contaminated, there maybe repeated debridement and washout before formal closure of the wound. Also, you may need to be admitted for intravenous antibiotics.

The patient would need to have an updated tetanus vaccination in the past 5 to 10 years, otherwise a tetanus booster vaccination would often be provided. X-rays may also be ordered if there are any suspicions for deeper joint or bone involvement or to look for foreign materials.

Once the acute wound has healed, we will start you on scar management.