ZocdocAnswersCan dog bites become infected?

Question

Can dog bites become infected?

My dog bit me a little too hard and now I think my hand is infected. I am a 21 year old male. I am going to the doctor soon. What can I do in the meantime?

Answer

Sorry to hear that your dog bit you a little too hard, and you think that your hand may be infected. The simple answer to the first question "can dog bites become infected?" is a definite yes. It sounds like you already know that however as you mention that you think your hand is infected currently. I would definitely get it looked at as soon as possible because there are certain types of infections in the hand that can cause permanent damage to the function of the hand even after the infection has been treated. In particular you can get a deep space infection (an infection that involves the deep tissues of the hand) from a deep puncture wound (like from a dog bite), and in addition to aggressive antibiotic therapy, typically surgical drainage of the purulent fluid and even debridement of the infected/dead tissue may need to be done. The difference in whether an infection is able to be treated with antibiotics alone, and whether it will need surgical debridement can be as little as a catching the infection early. In particular with dog bites your physician will need to make sure that your antibiotics cover some of the normal pathogenic bacteria that are present in dog bites (like Pasteurella). You will also need to make sure that your tetanus shot is up to date. I hope this makes sense, and that you get your hand checked out early rater than later. Best of luck.

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