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Treatment of Human Bites

Most people are aware of the risk of being bitten by an animal such as cat or a dog. However bites from other people are extremely common and can be quite serious if not attended to properly. Bites inflicted by another person can happen in numerous different ways. The most common types of human bites include; bites to the hands when someone is punched in the mouth, thumb or finger sucking by small children, and the more playful “love bites” associated with enthusiastic partners. In addition, some bites can be self-inflicted.

Bites caused by people can be quite severe and have a high risk of becoming infected. Oftentimes the bite can be deep enough that will affect the underlying bone and joints. Even today with advanced medical treatment, a small portion of amputations are still done due to human bites. These are done either because the initial trauma was quite severe, or an infection set in after the bite that was unable to be controlled.

Bites due to people are seen in all age groups. Small children will often bite their fingers or nails, or cause damage to the skin by sucking their thumbs. Teenagers and twentysomethings are frequently seen for bites caused during lovemaking. These bites can occur on any area of the body, but are more common on the “private parts”.

By far the most common location of the human bite related injury is on the hand. It is estimated that up to 90% of bites caused by humans to another human are located on the hand. An overwhelming majority of these hand bites were caused by a closed fist punching a person in the mouth. Not surprisingly, over 70% of human bites are seen in men.

Treatment of a human bite should not be delayed. Oftentimes, especially in a case of bites which happened during a fight, alcohol or drugs can complicate the issue and delay treatment.

Most people are unaware of the wide variety of different bacteria which are found in human mouth. Infections due to human rights can be caused by over 40 different species of bacteria. In most cases, an infection will contain more than one individual species of bacteria. A study was done looking for the number of different bacteria in a wide variety of human bites and found that the average bite from a person contains approximately four different species of bacteria.

Because of the wide number of bacteria which have the potential to cause an infection after a bite from a person, treatment can be somewhat complicated. Most of the time antibiotics are given to prevent the risk of infection or to treat one which has already settled in. These antibiotics are typically very broad spectrum, and are able to attack a wide range of different bacteria species.

In addition to antibiotic therapy, it is often necessary to obtain an x-ray of the area around the bite. This is particularly common in bites that take place on the hands or near a joint. It is important to take a look inside the joint with the x-ray to determine whether or not there is an infection near the bone or joint.

Like a bite from any animal, a new bite from a person must be cleaned thoroughly and kept clean until a doctor is able to evaluate it. The best way to clean a wound is to flush it out with water. If the bite has penetrated deep into the skin, it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. The risk of infection is quite high with human bites, and the sooner treatment is initiated, the lower the risk of a subsequent infection.