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9301 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, California 90210
|INSURANCE & WORKERS' COMPENSATION
We accept most types of insurance
providers and specialize in the treatment of workers'
compensation injuries to the hand and upper extremity.
Animal or Human Bites on the Hand
Animal Bites on the Hand
Human Bites on the Hand
Signs & Symptoms of Bites
Treatment of Bites
Bites on the hand are common injuries that can result in a great deal
of pain and lead to further problems, such as infection.
The key to minimizing complications related to a bite is to be aware
of early symptoms and seek treatment when needed.
When bitten, bacteria from the biter's mouth may enter the wound and
contaminate it. If left unchecked, the bacteria can grow inside the
wound and cause a serious infection. This infection may only be mildly
annoying, but in some cases may even be life-threatening.
The likelihood and severity of the infection can depend on many things.
The location and intensity of the bite, along with the health of the
person who was bitten, are all important factors. If, for example,
the person who is bitten has a suppressed immune system, he or she
may be more vulnerable to infection. Additionally, the length of time
between the bite and its treatment, the health of the animal or person
who caused the bite, and any other foreign substances or bodies in
the wound may increase the possibility or nature of an infection.
As many as three million animal bites occur in the United States each
year, with dogs causing 90% of them. 5% are caused by cats, and the
rest are mostly caused by rodents.
|Animal Bites on the Hand
Most animal bites happen to children between five and fourteen years
of age. Furthermore, in comparison to women, men are more often bitten
by dogs. Women, conversely, are more likely to be bitten by cats.
Cat bites result in a greater number of infections because their teeth
are sharper and puncture more deeply.
Unfortunately, the skin of the person bitten usually covers and seals
the site of the bite, thus preventing the wound to drain. The damage
caused by the bite itself, therefore, is often less of a worry than
the infection that can result. While 1% of dog bites and 6% of cat
bites require hospitalization, prompt attention and care usually means
the chances for recovery are very good.
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The chance of infection is very high in cases involving a human bit.
Human mouths actually have high concentrations of bacteria. Since
the infection can grow quickly and lead to serious complications,
early treatment is critical. Human bites most often result from a
punch to the mouth. If left untreated, an infection can grow deep
in the knuckle joint and, eventually, destroy it. If treated, however,
the response to an early diagnosis, intravenous antibiotics, and surgery
performed by a hand surgeon is usually rather positive.
|Human Bites on the Hand
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Emergency treatment, in either your doctor's office or any emergency
health care facility, should be sought if any of the following are
|Signs & Symptoms of Bites
Swelling, redness, or warmth around bite area after 24 hours
The wound is draining or leaking pus
Red streaks run up the arm or forearm
Lymph nodes (or "glands") around elbow or in the armpit
There is a loss of mobility in the arm, hand, or wrist that
There is a loss of feeling in the hand or fingertip
The person bit begins feeling fever, malaise, night sweats, or
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To properly treat the bite, your hand surgeon will begin by examining
the wound. He or she will also ask a few questions about how the
injury was sustained. You should be prepared to provide a detailed
report about the bite to your hand surgeon, including the type of
animal that caused it and its general health. Anything known about
the vaccination history of the animal or its behavior may be important.
|Treatment of Bites
If you haven't had a tetanus booster within the past ten years,
your doctor may recommend that you get one.
To see if there was any damage to the bone or joint, or if foreign
pieces are embedded in your hand (e.g., pieces of a tooth), an x-ray
may be taken. If the bite caused an infection, it may have spread
to the surrounding bone forming a condition called osteomyelitis,
which can also be revealed by an x-ray.
Any animal bite to the hand or fingers needs to be thoroughly and
completely cleaned. The hand doctor or other medical provider will
first wash the area and may have to trim away any dead tissue, skin,
blood clots, or foreign matter that could lead to infection. Your
doctor, and you, should be alert for any red streaks on the forearm,
a sign of lymphangitis, and for any sign of swelling on the inside
of the elbow, which can indicate a swollen lymph node. If the wound
is thought to be infected, a culture will be taken to see what type
of bacteria is causing it and what antibiotic should be taken to
To make sure that the infection was properly treated, follow-up
care including visits to your hand surgeon is critical.
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