Bites can be from insects such as ants and bees, animals or humans some of which may or may not be poisonous. Since the skin is a very sensitive organ lined with nerve endings, blood vessels and sweat gland it responds to bites through inflammatory responses. This is responsible for the redness, swelling, itching and pain that we often feel. These reactions are usually mild although there may be more severe ones. It is important to treat bites the right way to prevent further damage or complications. Here are simple tips to care for bites you should know.


Insects (mosquitoes, spiders, ants, fleas, bees and ticks): Avoid killing insects with your hands.

  • If you have been bitten by an insect, avoid scratching the affected part
  • Ensure you move to a safe area to avoid more bites or stings.
  • If needed, remove the stinger but be careful of putting pressure on the stinger to prevent the release of more venom in the skin.
  • Ensure that you Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cool compress using a cloth dampened with cold water or filled with ice to reduce swelling and pain
  • If the swelling is on the leg please elevate it.
  • Apply a cream, gel or lotion to the injured area. Use products containing ingredients such as hydrocortisone or lidocaine to help control pain.
  • Use creams such as calamine lotion or those containing colloidal oatmeal or baking soda to help soothe itchy skin.
  • Use over-the-counter medications. Try a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), or an anti-histamine (Benadryl, Chlor-Trimeton, others).
  • Usually, the signs and symptoms of a bite or sting disappear in a day or two. If you’re concerned even if your reaction is minor call your doctor.

Snakes (coral, rattlesnake and cobra): Snakes bites are mostly poisonous and deadly. This is due to the release of poisonous venom which is quick to circulate through the body within the shortest time. Note that a bite from a poisonous snake is a medical emergency and must be treated with urgency to avoid death of the victim. Symptoms of a poisonous snake bite can vary, depending on the type of snake. They:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Convulsions
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Rapid pulse
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Swelling in the area of the bite


For mild treatment of non –poisonous bites

  • Wash site of bites with soap and water
  • Use clean cloth to apply pressure to the area until bleeding stops
  • Use topical antibiotic to ward off infections
  • Cover wound with sterile bandage until wound heals
  • If bleeding doesn’t stop refer to the hospital

For treatment of poisonous bites

  • Try to get a picture or identify the snake to help the medical professionals discover the anti-venom for the poison
  • Get medical help immediately and if you are helping a victim ensure you do the following.
  • Encourage the victim to lie quietly and stay still to avoid the venom from spreading rapidly
  • Monitor patient’s level of consciousness
  • Remove any tight clothing around the affected part
  • Do not endanger yourself by trying to capture the snake
  • Do not wash the site of the bite, since residual venom can help medical professionals identify the type of snake and proper treatment
  • Do not apply a cold compress to the site of the bite
  • Do not raise the bitten area above the level of their heart
  • Do not cut or suck the site of the bite
  • Do not give the person anything to eat or drink
  • Do not give the person any pain medications

Dogs/cats bites

If you get bitten by a dog or cat that isn’t vaccinated it is important that you get a rabies vaccine has soon as possible. If you notice any sign of allergy like swelling, pain, redness or itching on the site or wound, it is right to do the following

  • Wash the site of bite with soap and water
  • Apply cold compress to reduce swelling
  • Apply topical antibiotics to the site to prevent it from being infected
  • Cover affected part with clean cloth or gauze to stop bleeding

However, if you discover the site is infected or bleeding doesn’t stop, seek medical help immediately.


Human bites

This is common among children during a fight. If your skin gets broken and the cut is deep see the doctor for adequate care to prevent infections because the mouth is full of germs. if there is a minor bleeding ensure you wash the surface of your skin with water and soap and then apply an antibiotic ointment.

Mild treatment can be used to treat minor bites as mentioned above, however if there is serious bleeding from a bite despite efforts to arrest it, pls see a doctor.

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