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Alternative Names Return to topBites - human
Definition Return to top
Human bites are usually caused by one person biting another, although they may result from a situation in which one person comes into contact with another person's teeth.
In a fight, for example, one person's knuckles may come into contact with another person's teeth, and if the impact breaks the skin, the injury would be considered a bite.
Considerations Return to top
Human bites that break the skin, like all puncture wounds, have a high risk of infection. They also pose a risk of injury to tendons and joints.
Bites are very common among young children. Children often bite to express anger or other negative feelings.
Human bites may be more dangerous than most animal bites. There are germs in some human mouths that can cause hard-to-treat infections. If you have an infected human bite, especially on the hand, you may need to be admitted to the hospital to receive antibiotics through a vein (intravenously). In some cases, surgery may be needed.
Symptoms Return to top
Bites may produce symptoms ranging from mild to severe:
First Aid Return to top
DO NOT Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
All human bites that break the skin should be promptly evaluated by a doctor. Bites may be especially serious when:
Prevention Return to top
References Return to top
Brook I. Management of human and animal bite wounds: an overview. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2005 May;18(4):197-203.
Weber EJ. Mammalian Bites. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2006: chap. 58.Update Date: 6/9/2008 Updated by: John E. Duldner, Jr., MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Director of Research, Department of Emergency Medicine Akron General Medical Center and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.