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Sue Hubbard, M.D.
: Quick Action Is Key
I received an email via our iPhone App from a mom who was very worried after her daughter had been bitten by a friend's dog. This is a common concern pediatricians hear . In fact, one of my own children was once severely bitten by a friend's dog. I had somehow forgotten that experience and the 20 stitches to his face!)
I looked at the website of the
This mother was concerned about the appropriate treatment. Her daughter's bite was on the face (very common for children) and small, but it did break the skin. The first thing a parent should do after such a bite is to stop the bleeding by applying pressure. Then, clean the area with warm water and soap. Dogs, like humans, have dirty mouths, so you want to wash and rinse well and even flush out the wound if it's deep.
If the bite wound is small, it's usually not sutured, as this might increase the risk of infection. On the other hand, facial wounds and larger bites have to be well cleansed and irrigated, and may require stitches. The sooner this can be done the better. For a child with a dog bite that has broken the skin, most pediatricians would recommend a 7-day course of an antibiotic, typically Augmentin (unless the child is allergic to penicillin).
Rabies is usually not a risk in dogs that are family pets and live in homes. If the dog is not known or their rabies status is unclear and you can't locate the pet, check with your pediatrician about rabies prophylaxis.
Lastly, ensure minimal scarring by using a topical vitamin E cream on the healed skin and sunscreen. The less sun exposure, the less scarring, especially if the face is involved. That really goes for all cuts and scars.
Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show.
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Health - Dealing With Dog Bites