Human bites

Human bites

Fact Checked

Human bites might not seem a big issue, but it carries a high risk for infection. A bite from another individual contains a high level of bacteria, even if the wound is a minor one. Always remember that a minor wound can eventually develop an infection. These infections can result to major complications that include joint destruction if not treated right away.

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Causes of human bites

Take note that human bites are usually done in a direct manner such as a child biting another child. It can also be caused in an indirect manner such a hand hitting a tooth. Even a punch to the mouth can cause an indirect injury at the knuckle joint.

What are the symptoms?

In some cases, a bite will not cause a break in the skin, but can damage the underlying joints and tendons. In case the skin is broken, it is at risk for infection as well as injuries to the tendons, joints and nerves.

  • Swelling
  • Area surrounding the wound is warm
  • Pain
  • Discharge of pus

In case there is damage to the nerves or tendon, there is inability to straighten or bend the finger on the affected hand and there is also loss of sensation on the tip of the fingers on the affected hand.


If an individual incurred a bite from another person, whether directly or indirectly, always inform the doctor. The wound will be measured, its location and inspect if signs or nerve or tendon damage are present. An X-ray and blood test will be requested. Additionally, a tetanus shot will be administered.

It is important to return to the doctor a day or two after the initial visit so that the doctor can confirm if infection has developed. Once the nerves or tendons have been damaged, a specialist should be consulted for further treatment. In worst cases, surgery might be required if the tendon or joint is infected.


human bites
A human bite can be caused directly or indirectly.

It is a known fact that bites can easily transmit diseases from one person to another such as syphilis, HIV and hepatitis C and B. If the skin is broken, it is important to consult a doctor right away.

Bites that are superficial

  • Avoid putting the bitten area in the mouth since it will only add bacteria to the wound.
  • In case the skin is not broken, the wound should be washed using water and soap or an antiseptic.
  • Antibiotic ointment must be applied and covered with a bandage.
  • Observe the area surrounding the wound carefully for signs of damaged tendons and nerves.

What to do for bites that are deep?

  • In case the skin surrounding the wound is broken and bleeds, direct pressure should be applied using a dry and clean cloth.
  • Elevate the area with the wound.
  • Avoid cleaning the wound that is still bleeding.
  • Wrap the wound using a clean dressing and seek medical care.

The best way to prevent complications from arising from a deep human bite is to seek medical attention within 24 hours.


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The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
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