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First Aid

If you are bitten by a dog must you go to a doctor?


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November 27, 2008 5:07AM

It's hard to disinfect a bite wound, and if it's a serious one, a hospital can help a lot. If you want to treat it at home, here's what you need to do: Any bite wound presents the immediate problem of bleeding. Once that is controlled, you need to concentrate on infection. So, once bleeding is controlled, work on prophylacsis. Get a basin of warm water. Add to it hydrogen peroxide (.5C) and betadyne (.25C). Some soap won't hurt. Scrub the wound immersed -- not hard enough to open it, but enough to clean it. Let it soak for at least 20 minutes. Dry it gently, and bandage with a loose, sterile wrap. Check it daily -- if it infects, you're off to the doctor. Change the dressing every day and disinfect with betadyne or H2O2 -- or both -- and re-wrap. The way that dog bites go south is if an infection forms up. If you can stop that by consistent cleaning, and the wound doesn't need sutures, you're home free. If it infects, you're beyond the scope of what you can do at home. Note: Human bites are worse.