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Nearly 5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year.
Half of all dog bite victims are kids under nine years old. Being bitten by a dog is both painful and scary, and being bitten by a strange dog is even more dangerous.
Read on to discover what you need to do if you, or your child, is bitten by a dog.
The severity of the dog bite will determine your next steps.
There are several different “tiers” of dog bites. The first level, and least severe, is when the bite wounds but does not break the skin. This level of bite might seem like more of a scratch than anything else.
The next level is when you notice actual puncture wounds in the skin. Typically, these will be from the dog’s canine teeth, so you’ll notice as many as four small ruptures in your skin.
The most significant dog bite is when one has severely ruptured your skin and is causing substantial blood loss. In that case, you’ll want to get to an Urgent Care Center as soon as possible.
After you’ve determined how bad of dog bite you’re dealing with, it’s essential to tend to the wound as quickly as possible.
Start by placing your wound under running water for a few minutes. This will help to keep the wound clean. A sink will do, but if the injury is on your leg or another hard to reach area, you might consider using a hose instead.
Next, gently clean the bite and the area around it with antibacterial soap to help prevent dirt and other germs from getting inside the wound and causing an infection.
Rinse the wound, and cover it with a clean cloth. You can use a gauze compress or a clean shirt or towel in a pinch.
If the dog bite is severe, keep the wound covered while you visit an urgent care center for proper dog bite treatment.
If you’ve determined that you don’t need urgent care treatment, you can perform a few more steps at home.
After the wound is clean, remove the cloth and allow the bite to dry. Avoid touching or picking at the wound, as this can cause irritation or infection.
To keep the healing wound moist and prevent infection, apply an antibiotic cream.
Once you’ve applied the cream, be sure to apply an appropriately-sized bandage to the dog bite. After the bandage is applied, wrap the wound or use medical tape to keep dirt out.
Even if the wound from the dog bite doesn’t appear dire, you’ll need to take it to Urgent Care if there are any puncture wounds.
Puncture wounds are dangerous, as potential irritants from the animal’s saliva are driven deep into the skin. Any puncture wound, no matter how small it appears, must be seen by a medical professional. The risk of infection or complications associated with puncture wounds is very high, but also very preventable.
For example, if you were bitten by a dog, particularly one that isn’t yours, there’s always a risk of contracting rabies. A clinician will take a look at the wound and might also prescribe additional medication if need be.
Now that you’ve received directions and medication from a medical professional, all that’s left is to monitor and care for the wound each day.
While it might seem exhaustive, you need to follow any directions you are given by a medical professional. You’ll want to switch out the bandage a few times each day to ensure the wound stays clean (unless your doctor told you otherwise).
Before placing the new bandage, be sure to take a look at the dog bite for any signs of infection. Signs of infection include significant redness, intense pain, or swelling.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your urgent care and see if they’d recommend you coming back in for further treatment.
Now that you’ve seen a detailed answer to your question of “a dog bit me, what should I do?”, it’s time to give yourself proper treatment.
Be sure to choose the appropriate medical facility for your injury. See this article for more info on whether to choose an ER or urgent care.
If you’re not sure, book a virtual appointment with a CityHealth Urgent Care clinician today!