Child Emergency: Bite Wound - First Aid

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Child Emergency: Bite Wound - First Aid
Child Emergency: Bite Wound - First Aid
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Emergency in children: bite wounds

The majority of all bite injuries affect children. In most cases, it is a dog or cat bite. The severity ranges from mild, superficial injuries to deep, extensive injuries to the soft tissue.

The main problem with animal bites is the risk of infection: the oral cavity of the biting animal is often colonized with germs that can get into the wound with the bite and lead to infection. After a bite injury, the wound should therefore be well cared for and a doctor should always be consulted.

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  • What are typical features of a bite wound?
  • How can I provide first aid?
  • Interesting facts about bite wounds

What are typical features of a bite wound?

In Austria, the most common bite injuries are caused by dog ​​and cat bites. Depending on the bite site and the animal, the following wound characteristics are important:

  • In most cases the injuries are in the extremities.
  • In small children, the head is particularly at risk (is at the same height as the animal).
  • The soft tissue damage can range from "scratches" to abrasions, tears or bruises to severe defects.
  • Bite wounds can be very deep and affect bones, nerves and blood vessels.
  • The wound edges are irregular and "tattered".
  • In addition to other pathogens, there is a risk of tetanus pathogens being transmitted through the bite. It is important to check the vaccination status! On the other hand, rabies no longer occurs de facto in Austria.
  • The full extent of the injury is often not immediately apparent. Infections only occur after a delay. They express themselves as redness, swelling, pain, pus secretion at the bite site and possibly general malaise or fever.

How high the risk of infection is depends on the one hand on the type of wound and on the other hand on the germs transferred and the functioning of the wound healing and immune system. The following wounds have a particularly high risk of infection:

  • very deep bite wounds or wounds with severe tissue destruction,
  • Wounds with joint injuries and involvement of bones and tendons,
  • Wounds with poor circulation,
  • Wounds on hands, feet, face and genitals,
  • Patients with a weakened immune system (e.g. in the case of diabetes, immune deficiencies, etc.),
  • Children under two years of age,
  • Cat bites.

How can I provide first aid?

The great danger is on the one hand the germ colonization of the oral cavity of the biting animal and on the other hand the soft tissue damage from the bite itself. A large number of bacteria are usually found in wound swabs. Purulent inflammation and severe pain often occur after a few hours or even days. In order to avoid this, careful care and early medical assessment of bite wounds is of great importance.

First aid measures for bite wounds

  • In the event of severe injuries (e.g. on the head) or heavy bleeding, dial the emergency number 144 after the basic measures (emergency check, hemostasis).
  • For all other bite wounds: First clean the wound under running water.
  • Then clean the wound with disinfectant.
  • Cover with a plaster or sterile bandage depending on the size of the injury.
  • Then have a medical examination as soon as possible in any case! This also applies to minor injuries! Especially in the case of small, punctiform bite wounds that initially appear harmless (e.g. cat bites), pathogens can spread deeper and lead to infections.

The doctor determines whether there are injuries to muscles, nerves or vessels and whether therapy with antibiotics is necessary. If the wound is treated immediately and properly, the likelihood of a serious wound infection is reduced. In addition, the vaccination status is checked (tetanus!) And the vaccination is refreshed if necessary.

Interesting facts about bite wounds

Bite wounds can be divided into three grades depending on their severity:

  • Grade I: superficial skin injuries, scratches, bruises, etc.
  • Grade II: skin wound that extends to the muscles or fascia
  • Grade III: wound with bone involvement, vascular or nerve damage

Serious bite injuries are naturally caused by larger dogs; Unobserved dog attacks and attacks on small children are particularly dangerous. In the worst case, these can be fatal.

In the case of bite wounds, the focus is on prevention. Children tend to like to treat dogs and other animals like toys or cuddly toys. Animals are often "annoyed" by this - mostly unintentionally. Children are also not aware that animals can bite properly and cause life-threatening injuries.

A large proportion of all bite injuries are caused by your own or a known pet. The decisive factor is often that the animal is frightened, annoyed or disturbed while eating.

Parents should inform their children at an early stage about possible dangers in handling animals and teach them about appropriate measures:

  • Children should understand that animals are sensitive living beings that can be in pain and fear. Therefore, do not pull on the tail, tear off the fur, throw objects at them, etc. Children must learn to be careful with animals.
  • Children should stay away from strange dogs and only play with their own dog under supervision.
  • Animals often bite when they are startled or surprised. Whoever approaches an animal should always make himself noticeable, but calmly and not hectically.
  • Anyone who is attacked by a dog should never run away. This awakens the hunting instinct and makes it even more aggressive.
  • Do not take food away from a dog / cat. The animal will defend its food and react aggressively.
  • Do not disturb a dog / cat if it has young and is taking care of them

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