Abdominal Pain - Female
Abdominal Pain - Male
Acne
Animal or Human Bite
Antibiotics: When Do They Help
Arm Injury
Arm Pain
Asthma Attack
Athlete's Foot
Back Pain
Bed Bug Bite
Bee or Yellow Jacket Sting
Blisters
Bottle-Feeding Formula Questions
Breast-Feeding Questions
Bruise
Burn
Chest Pain
Chickenpox
Circumcision Problems
Colds
Constipation
Cough
Coughs: Meds or Home Remedies
Cracked or Dry Skin
Cradle Cap
Croup
Crying Baby - Before 3 Months Old
Crying Child - 3 Months and Older
Cut, Scrape, or Bruise
Diaper Rash
Diarrhea
Diarrhea Diseases From Travel
Dizziness
Drinking Fluids - Decreased
Dry Skin
Ear - Congestion
Ear - Discharge
Ear - Injury
Ear - Pulling At or Rubbing
Ear - Swimmer's
Ear Infection Questions
Earache
Earwax Buildup
Ebola Exposure
Eczema
Emergency Symptoms Not to Miss
Eye - Allergy
Eye - Foreign Body or Object
Eye - Injury
Eye - Pus or Discharge
Eye - Red Without Pus
Eye - Swelling
Fever
Fever - How to Take the Temperature
Fever - Myths Versus Facts
Fifth Disease
Finger Injury
Fire Ant Sting
Flu
Fluid Intake Decreased
Food Allergy
Foreskin Care Questions
Frostbite
Genital Injury - Female
Genital Injury - Male
Hair Loss
Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease HFMD
Hay Fever
Head Injury
Headache
Heat Exposure and Reactions
Heat Rash
Hives
Human or Animal Bite
Immunization Reactions
Impetigo - Infected Sores
Infection Exposure Questions
Influenza - Seasonal
Influenza Exposure
Insect Bite
Jaundiced Newborn
Jellyfish Sting
Leg Injury
Leg Pain
Lice - Head
Lymph Nodes - Swollen
Medication - Refusal to Take
Mental Health Problems
Molluscum
Mosquito Bite
Mosquito-Borne Diseases from Travel
Motion Sickness
Mouth Injury
Mouth Ulcers
Neck Pain or Stiffness
Newborn Appearance Questions
Newborn Illness - How to Recognize
Newborn Rashes and Birthmarks
Newborn Reflexes and Behavior
Nose Allergy Hay Fever
Nose Injury
Nosebleed
Penis-Scrotum Symptoms
Pinworms
Poison Ivy - Oak - Sumac
Puncture Wound
Rash or Redness - Localized
Rash or Redness - Widespread
Reflux Spitting Up
Ringworm
Roseola
Scabies
Scrape
Sinus Pain or Congestion
Skin Foreign Body or Object
Skin Injury
Skin Lump
Sliver or Splinter
Sore Throat
Spider Bite
Spitting Up - Reflux
Stomach Pain - Female
Stomach Pain - Male
Stools - Blood In
Stools - Unusual Color
Strep Throat Exposure
Strep Throat Infection
Sty
Sunburn
Suture Questions
Swallowed Foreign Body or Object
Swallowed Harmless Substance
Swimmer's Itch - Lakes and Oceans
Tear Duct - Blocked
Teething
Thrush
Tick Bite
Toe Injury
Toenail - Ingrown
Tooth Injury
Toothache
Umbilical Cord Symptoms
Urinary Tract Infection - Female
Urination Pain - Female
Urination Pain - Male
Vaginal Symptoms
Vomiting With Diarrhea
Vomiting Without Diarrhea
Warts
Wheezing Other Than Asthma
Wound Infection

Resources

Is Your Child Sick?TM


Human or Animal Bite

Is this your child's symptom?

  • Bite or claw wound from a pet, farm or wild animal
  • Bite from a child or adult human

Types of Wounds

  • Bruise. There is no break in the skin. No risk of infection.
  • Scrape (Abrasion) or Scratch. A wound that doesn't go all the way through the skin. Low chance of infection. Antibiotic drugs are not needed.
  • Cut (Laceration). A wound that goes through the skin to the fat or muscle tissue. Some chance of infection. Most need to be seen. Cleaning the wound can help prevent this. Antibiotic drugs may be needed.
  • Puncture Wound. These wounds break through the skin. Greater risk of infection. Puncture wounds from cat bites are more likely to get infected. Antibiotic drugs may be needed.
  • Wound Infection. This is the main risk of an animal bite. The main finding is redness around the bite and pain. It starts 1 to 3 days after the bite. It can often be prevented by early, careful cleaning of the bite. This is why most animal bites need to be seen.

Types of Animal Bites

  • Large Wild Animal Bites. Some wild animals can have rabies. Rabies is a disease that can kill people. Bites or scratches from any large wild animal can pass on rabies. Animals that may carry rabies are bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, or coyotes. These animals may spread rabies even if they have no symptoms.
  • Small Wild Animal Bites. Small animals such as mice, rats, moles, or gophers do not carry rabies. Chipmunks, prairie dogs, squirrels and rabbits also do not carry rabies. Sometimes, their bites can get infected.
  • Large Pet Animal Bites. Most bites from pets are from dogs or cats. Bites from other pets such as horses can be handled using this guide. Dogs and cats are free of rabies in most cities. Stray animals are always at risk for rabies until proven otherwise. Cats and dogs that always stay indoors are free of rabies. The main risk in pet bites is wound infection, not rabies. Cat bites become infected more often than dog bites. Cat scratches can get infected just like a bite because cats lick their claws.
  • Small Indoor Pet Animal Bites. Small indoor pets are at no risk for rabies. Examples of these pets are gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, or mice. Tiny puncture wounds from these small animals also don't need to be seen. They carry a small risk for wound infections.
  • Human Bites. Most human bites occur during fights, especially in teenagers. Sometimes a fist is cut when it strikes a tooth. Human bites are more likely to become infected than animal bites. Bites on the hands are at higher risk. Many toddler bites are safe because they don't break the skin.
  • Bat Bites and Rabies. In the U.S., 90% of cases of rabies in humans are caused by bats. Bats have spread rabies without a visible bite mark.

Animals at Risk for Rabies

  • Bat, skunk, raccoon, fox, or coyote
  • Other large wild animals
  • Pets that have never had rabies shots and spend time outdoors
  • In the US, rabies occurs 4 times more in cats than in dogs.
  • Outdoor animals who are sick or stray
  • Dogs or cats in countries that do not require rabies shots
  • In the US and Canada, bites from city dogs and cats are safe.
  • In the US, there are 2 - 3 cases of rabies per year in humans.

When to Call for Human or Animal Bite

Call 911 Now

  • Major bleeding that can't be stopped
  • Not moving or too weak to stand
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Wild animal bite that breaks the skin
  • Pet animal (such as dog or cat) bite that breaks the skin. (Exception: minor scratches that don't go through the skin)
  • Puncture wound (holes through skin) from a Cat's teeth or claws
  • Puncture wound (holes through skin) of hand or face
  • Human bite that breaks the skin
  • Bite looks infected (redness or red streaks) or has a fever
  • Bat contact or exposure, even without a bite mark
  • Minor cut or scrape and no past tetanus shots
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Last tetanus shot over 5 years ago
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Bite did not break the skin or is only a bruise
  • Minor scratches that don't go through the skin from a pet
  • Tiny puncture wound from small pet, such as a hamster or puppy. (Exception: Cat puncture wound)

Call 911 Now

  • Major bleeding that can't be stopped
  • Not moving or too weak to stand
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Wild animal bite that breaks the skin
  • Pet animal (such as dog or cat) bite that breaks the skin. (Exception: minor scratches that don't go through the skin)
  • Puncture wound (holes through skin) from a Cat's teeth or claws
  • Puncture wound (holes through skin) of hand or face
  • Human bite that breaks the skin
  • Bite looks infected (redness or red streaks) or has a fever
  • Bat contact or exposure, even without a bite mark
  • Minor cut or scrape and no past tetanus shots
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Last tetanus shot over 5 years ago
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Bite did not break the skin or is only a bruise
  • Minor scratches that don't go through the skin from a pet
  • Tiny puncture wound from small pet, such as a hamster or puppy. (Exception: Cat puncture wound)

Care Advice for Animal or Human Bite

  1. What You Should Know About Bites:
    • Bites that don't break the skin can't become infected.
    • Cuts and punctures always are at risk for infection.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Clean the Bite:
    • Wash all wounds right now with soap and water for 5 minutes.
    • Also, flush well under running water for a few minutes. Reason: Can prevent many wound infections.
    • Scrub the wound enough to make it re-bleed a little. Reason: To help with cleaning out the wound.
  3. Bleeding - How To Stop:
    • For any bleeding, put pressure on the wound.
    • Use a gauze pad or clean cloth.
    • Press for 10 minutes or until the bleeding has stopped.
  4. Antibiotic Ointment:
    • For small cuts, use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin). No prescription is needed.
    • Put it on the cut 3 times a day.
    • Do this for 3 days.
  5. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
    • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
    • Use as needed.
  6. Cold Pack for Pain:
    • For pain or bruising, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth. Apply it to the bruise once for 20 minutes. Reason: Helps with bleeding, pain and swelling.
  7. What to Expect:
    • Most scratches, scrapes and other minor bites heal up fine in 5 to 7 days.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Bite starts to look infected (pus, redness, red streaks)
    • Fever occurs
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Copyright 1994-2017 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC. All rights reserved.

Scratches from a Cat

The photo shows 3-4 parallel scratches on the wrist caused by a cat.

First Aid Care Advice:

  • Wash the scratches with soap and water.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment twice daily.
  • Watch closely for signs of infection, especially the first 1-3 days.

Select from over 100 symptoms to learn about managing your child's illness.