General Hands

Dealing with Animal Bites and the Hand

Animal bites are very common in humans, and they often occur on the hands. Thats because people may be reaching toward the animal or holding out their hands in defense. These bites are painful and they often lead to infection because of bacteria found in the animals mouth. Complications from this type of infection can be very minor, resulting in just discomfort, but they can also be very serious, to the point that they are life threatening.

Every year, millions of people in the United States are bitten by dogs, cats, rodents, rabbits, monkeys, and ferrets. Of course, the vast majority of these are dog bites, specifically.

The Problem with Animal Bites

When animal bites occur in the hand or fingers, the wound itself is usually not that bad. However, there is a high risk of infection. In fact, the infection can be so bad that it could lead to hospitalization and does in about 1% of people who have been bitten by dogs and 6% of people who have been bitten by cats.

When it comes to animal bites, there could be a risk for rabies infection, but this is fairly rare. However, no matter what, if you have been bitten by an animal other than your own pet, you will need to report this bit to the health department. The animal will need to be tracked down.

The Problem of Human Bites

Human bites are, in essence, more dangerous than animal bites. Thats because humans have more bacteria in their mouth and this puts the bitten individual at high risk. Human bites can occur in different ways, including children biting people or broken skin that occurs during a fistfight.

Signs That a Bite Is Infected

Redness and swelling from a bite to the hand or fingers should only last about 24 hours. Symptoms of an infection include:

  • Swelling
  • Red Streaks Extending from the Bite
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes in the Arm
  • Pus in the Bite Wound
  • Loss of Sensation in the Hand or Fingers
  • Fever

Treatment of the Bite

If you have been bitten by an animal or human, it is a good idea to seek help from a physician. If it is showing signs of infection, then you definitely need to make an appointment. The hand will be examined and then cleansed carefully. The doctor may need to remove any dead skin from the wound. You will be given antibiotics, either in oral or intravenous form, to stop any infection. You will need to continue with follow up appointments to ensure the infection is being managed and is diminishing.

Animal and human bites can be very dangerous, leading to infection that can spread quickly. If not controlled, this could lead to permanent damage or even loss of part of the hand. If the infection spreads, then this could even lead to other medical problems throughout the body. So, if you have been bitten by an animal or a human, you will need to visit a physician as soon as possible.