Proper care for human bites

Human bites are at high risk for infection due to the amount of bacteria present in the mouth. If a bite becomes infected, medications or even surgery is required.

Always bear in mind that biting is common among young children because they are curious, frustrated or angry. Children and their caretakers might be at risk for bite wounds. Even fighting can lead to bites in both adults and children. Additionally, human bites are accidental, usually from a collision or fall.

How to determine if human bites are infected

Human bites might be minor, moderate or severe. The individual might have breaks in the skin with or without blood. In some cases, bruising can also occur. Depending on the site of the bite, there might be an injury to the tendon or joint.


The individual might have breaks in the skin with or without blood. In some cases, bruising can also occur.

The indications of an infection include:

  • Warmth or swelling around the wound
  • Fever or chills
  • Drainage of pus from the wound
  • Tenderness or pain on or around the wound


First aid care

Cleansing and bandaging the wound are commonly used for human bites.

  • Wash hands using an antibacterial soap before caring for a bite. If available, wear clean medical gloves to minimize the risk of transmitting bacteria into the wound.
  • For a minor wound without blood, cleanse it with water and soap. Do not scrub the wound.
  • Cover the wound using sterile bandages. Do not seal the wound with tape since this might trap bacteria within the wound.
  • If there is bleeding, elevate the bite site and place pressure using a towel or clean cloth.
  • After cleaning and bandaging the wound, get in touch with a doctor right away.

Medical care

In some instances, a course of antibiotics might be prescribed by the doctor. For severe cases, the doctor might administer intravenous antibiotics.

When it comes to deep wounds, stitches are required and surgery might be needed if the joints or tendons are damaged.

What is the long-term outlook?

Recovery from human bites is based on the severity and if the wound is infected. Take note than an infection generally heals within 7-10 days if properly treated. As for deeper bites, it might cause nerve damage and even scarring.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on human bites is for learning purposes only. Learn to provide proper wound care on human bites by taking a standard first aid course with Saskatoon First Aid.


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