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Keeping a dog bite from getting infected

When a dog bites you, your first thought is to stop the attack and get away from the animal. No matter how it happened — maybe you were just out for a run, or maybe you walked up to pet a dog that looked friendly — you’ll instinctively try to protect yourself.

What you do next could be equally important in protecting your long-term health and reducing the overall impact of the injury. You need to keep the bite from getting infected.

First and foremost, you should get the bleeding to stop. Press down with a clean towel or another piece of cloth. Apply pressure until the bleeding slows and then stops.

It can help to keep the injury elevated. For instance, if the dog bit your leg while you were jogging by, try sitting on the couch with your leg propped up on a pillow.

As soon as you can, wash the bite out. You can use warm water and soap. Antibacterial soaps kill microorganisms and clean the wound. This may sting, but it helps tremendously.

After the bite is clean, use an antibiotic ointment to treat the area. Don’t count on the soap alone. Then put a sterile bandage on the bite. Every day, change the bandage and add more ointment. Not only can this help prevent an infection, but it can also help to reduce scarring.

Even when you do these things, there is the chance that you’ll face complications, like infections or scarring that will never fully heal. You need to make sure you know what legal rights you have.

Source: WebMD, “Dog Bites,” accessed March 10, 2017

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