Human Bites

human bite

Clean the wound

There are many bacteria (germs) in human mouths. Cleaning will reduce the chance of infection. If the wound is small, you can clean it yourself. Just use ordinary tap water. Wounds that are large, deep, or dirty are best cleaned by a nurse or doctor. If the wound is bleeding heavily, a clean dressing or sterile pad should be used to apply pressure until you can get medical help.

If part of the wound has dead or damaged skin then it may need to be trimmed or removed. Open cuts to the face or head will usually be closed as soon as possible. For cuts to other parts of the body, sometimes a doctor may advise to wait for a few days before closing the wound, particularly if the wound is more than six hours old.


A short course of antibiotics is always prescribed to prevent infection developing in wounds which are large or deep and in the following circumstances

  • The bite wound is on the face, hand or foot.
  • Your resistance to infection is low.
  • You have an artificial heart valve or an artificial joint.


You may need a booster dose.

HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C

If you are bitten by a person who has one of these viral infections, there is a risk that the infection can pass on to you. To protect against HIV, you can be given medication which counters the HIV virus. To protect against hepatitis B, you can be given immunoglobulin (an antiserum) and be immunized against hepatitis B. Currently there is no treatment to prevent hepatitis C infection from developing.

What to look out for after a bite

The most common complication following a bite is a bacterial infection of the wound. Rarely, some bacteria can get into the bloodstream through a wound and cause a serious infection in the body. See a doctor if you become generally unwell with fever (high temperature), shivers within a week or so after a bite.

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