February 22, 2019
Bandaging a hand

If a Human Bites You

by Berkeley Wellness  

After dog and cat bites, human bites are the most common mammalian bite. If a bite breaks the skin, the chance of infection is 10 to 50 percent. Many species of bacteria have been isolated from the human mouth, and human bites are generally more likely to produce infection than dog bites. It’s also possible for a human bite to transmit the herpes viruses, hepatitis B and C, or HIV.

People, particularly children, may bite others during fights; some serious bites occur during sexual activity. Dentists get bitten, and sometimes people having seizures inadvertently bite those trying to help them.

  • The most common human bites are called “simple”—meaning that teeth sink into the skin. If the bite is superficial, just breaking the skin, simply wash the wound well with soap and water and apply a small bandage. But a deep bite wound should not be neglected. Go to the emergency room or the doctor’s office, but first wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water—always the first line of defense against infection.
  • Less common and much more serious is the so-called “clenched fist injury,” occurring when one person punches another in the mouth and the knuckles are lacerated. These injuries are most likely to result in infection; bones are often broken as well, or fingers dislocated. Such wounds require medical attention as soon as possible.