Following a human bite, it is usually worth seeing a doctor or health professional for advice.
How might I get a human bite?
Bites from humans are either intentional in a fight, or accidental, again most often during a fight - for example, when a clenched fist comes into contact with another person's teeth. Accidental contact with another person's teeth may also occur during some sports, or playground games. Bites can also be inflicted during sexual activity, either on purpose or as a result of getting accidentally carried away.
What should I do?
Human mouths are full of germs (bacteria), so it is very important to clean the wound. Good old water will do the job perfectly well. If possible, run water from the tap over it until it is clean. Let it bleed until it stops naturally, unless a lot of blood is being lost. If this is the case then press firmly on it with a sterile dressing or clean pad.
Do I need to see a doctor?
It is wise to see a health professional following any bite which breaks the skin. However, some bites carry more potential for trouble than others. In particular, see a health professional if:
- The bite was on your closed fist. (These bites are particularly likely to become infected.)
- The person who bit you has, or is at high risk of having, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV.
- You can't stop the bite from bleeding.
- You think the bite has become infected. (If the skin around it becomes red and hot, or the wound oozes.)
- The bite is very deep, and you can see tendons or bone in the wound.
- You haven't completed your tetanus jabs.
Further reading and references
Bites - human and animal; NICE CKS, July 2015 (UK access only)
Harrison M; A 4-year review of human bite injuries presenting to emergency medicine and Injury. 2009 Aug40(8):826-30. Epub 2009 Feb 1.
Guidelines for the emergency management of injuries (including needlesticks and sharps injuries, sexual exposure and human bites) where there is a risk of transmission of bloodborne viruses and other infectious diseases; EMI toolkit, Health Protection Surveillance Centre, September 2012
Patil PD, Panchabhai TS, Galwankar SC; Managing human bites. J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2009 Sep2(3):186-90. doi: 10.4103/0974-2700.55331.
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