Human Bites

Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 04 Jul 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Prof Cathy Jackson, 04 Jul 2017

Following a human bite, it is usually worth seeing a doctor or health professional for advice.

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.

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.

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

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