Human Bites

Human bite wounds, like animal bite wounds can be dangerous because the human mouth contains many different types of transmittable bacteria and viruses.

A person who has sustained a human bite wound that has broken the skin will need a tetanus shot within 48 hours if it has been over 5 years since their last booster.

The three general types of human bite injuries that can lead to complications are:

  • A closed-fist injury,
  • A chomping injury to the finger, and
  • A puncture-type wound to the head area caused by clashing with another person’s tooth.

First Aid for a human bite wound starts with stopping the bleeding:

  • Apply firm, direct pressure with sterile gauze or clean cloth until bleeding stops.  Wash the wound with mild soap and water for several minutes under running water.
  • Pat the area dry and apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
  • Protect the wound from further accidental injury by applying a clean gauze or bandage.
  • Change the dressing and continue to apply a fresh layer of antibiotic ointment at least twice a day.
  • Monitor the area for signs of infection such as swelling, painful redness, or puss.

Call 911 if blood is spurting from the wound and cannot be stopped within 10 minutes because deeper bite wounds may require stitches.  Tell the emergency health care provider if the person suffering a human bite to the hand has stiffness, numbness, or trouble moving fingers.  These symptoms indicate potential damage to tendons or nerves.

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Back Pain

Back Pain affects 9 out of 10 people in their lifetime and can range from moderate to severe. A person experiencing severe back pain should consider recent activity in order to rule out a possible spinal injury as the cause. People with severe back pain who have:

  • been in an accident such as a motor-vehicle collision,
  • have recently slipped, tripped, or taken a fall,
  • frequently participate in contact sports, or
  • have recently fallen victim to a violent attack,

should contact a medical professional for further evaluation of possible spinal injury.

For most people, common back pain is generally caused by sprains and strains to the muscles around the spine. A strain is the result of a heavy load or sudden force applied to muscles not ready for activity. Sprains are caused by overstretching the ligaments that support the back area.

First Aid for common back pain starts with:

  • Hot and cold therapy.  Apply a cold pack (or a bag of ice) to the painful area for five to ten minutes at a time. For back pain lasting longer than 2 days, a heating pad, hot bath, or hot shower can help relieve muscle tension and pain.
  • Rest the back for no more than 2 days.  Too much bed rest will cause the bones to lose calcium and weakens muscles.  This not only slows recovery, but can make a back problem worse.
  • After the first couple of days, engage in light exercises that do not put strain on the back such as: walking short distances, swimming or water aerobics, or riding a stationary bike.

90% of people with common back pain will recover within the first month. Treatment depends on the condition that is causing the back pain.  If back pain does not lessen with home treatment consult with a medical professional to evaluate other potential causes of severe back pain such as spinal misalignment, sciatica, or a slipped or ruptured disc.

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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infection in humans that is caused by a bacterium carried by ticks. Early symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • a localized rash that gradually expands over several days. As the rash expands, part of the rash may clear and take the appearance of a bulls-eye. The rash is rarely itchy or painful, and usually feels warm to the touch.
  • Other early symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle ache, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes.

Untreated, the Lyme disease bacterial infection may spread from the site of the bite to other parts of the body.  The spread of bacteria produces an array of specific symptoms that may come and go such as:

  • Lesions on the body
  • Loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face
  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness due to inflammation of the spinal cord
  • Pain and swelling in large joints
  • Shooting pains that may interfere with sleep
  • Heart palpitations and dizziness due to changes in heartbeat

Lyme disease requires professional medical treatment. People who live in or have recently travelled to an area known for dense tick populations, that are experiencing any of these symptoms, should seek prompt medical attention!

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Insect Bite

Insect bites and stings may inject venom or other substances into skin that result in a variety of symptoms. Severe reactions include:

  • Hives, nausea, cramps, vomiting, or a rapid heartbeat,
  • Involuntary muscle movement
  • Swelling of the lips or throat, difficulty breathing, dizziness, faintness, and confusion
  • Anaphylactic Shock

If any of these symptoms are present, call 911 or emergency medical assistance immediately. Typical reactions are mild and include local itching, stinging, and swelling. These symptoms typically subside within 48 hours.

First aid for insect bites begins with

  • Removing any insect parts from the site and cleaning the area with soap and water.
  • Use ice to reduce pain and control swelling.
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to the bite or sting several times daily and take an antihistamine as needed to reduce swelling and prevent allergic reactions until symptoms subside.

In some cases, delayed symptoms such as hives, fever, swollen glands, and joint pain may occur. A person experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention from their health care provider.

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Brown Recluse Spider Bite

Brown Recluse Spider bites usually occur in bed or after putting on clothes. The bite is typically painless. Symptoms of a Brown Recluse Spider bite include:

  • A local stinging pain
  • Six to eight hours after being bitten, aching and itching develop at the site.
  • Within three days an ulcer may develop.
  • If left untreated, in two to five weeks the bite will produce a noticeable hole.

First aid for a brown recluse spider bite starts with

  • Cleaning the area around the wound with mild soap and water.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment to the location of the bite.
  • Use ice to control swelling, and
  • Elevate the bite if it is located on a limb such as an arm or leg.

If you have been bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider, seek medical attention as soon as possible.  Venom from an untreated brown recluse spider bite causes skin tissue to die which may result in scarring. Some bites have also caused kidney failure and death in small children.  If you kill a spider that has bitten you, place the spider in a small jar, plastic bag, or other small container and bring it to your health care provider for identification.

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Chemical Burns

First Aid for a chemical burn starts by quickly removing any clothing or jewelry that has the chemical on it.  Doing so will help to prevent deeper burns and further injury.

Next, immediately flush the area with large amounts of gently streaming cool water.  You should rinse the area continuously for about 20 minutes.

Get to the emergency room immediately if the chemical burn has penetrated through the first layer of skin, and the resulting second-degree burn covers an area more than 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in diameter; also, if the chemical burn occurred on the eye, hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or over a major joint. If you seek emergency assistance, take the chemical container or a complete description of the substance with you for identification.

Do not put any topical medicine on the burned area, such as burn creams or antibiotic ointments. Doing so might start a chemical reaction that could make the burn worse.  Instead, pat the area dry and loosely wrap the burn with dry, sterile gauze or a clean cloth.  If burning to the skin increases or worsens, unwrap the area and rinse again for several more minutes.

Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever is recommended: Provided you or the injured party are not allergic to the ingredients: Tylenol, Aleve, Motrin, or generic varieties of these medications can help relieve pain.

Seek emergency medical assistance if: The person shows signs of shock, such as fainting, pale complexion, breathing in a notably shallow manner, or experiences severe pain that cannot be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers.

If you’re unsure whether a substance is toxic, call the poison control center at 800-222-1222. Be sure to have the name, content, or other details about the chemical when you call.  Always remember, when seeking emergency assistance, to take the chemical container or a complete description of the substance with you so that emergency staff can identify the chemical, and begin the best course of treatment.

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Diabetic Shock

Diabetic shock, or insulin shock, is the body’s response to low blood glucose, known as hypoglycemia.  Hypoglycemia is usually caused from administering too much insulin combined with an inadequate amount of food. The resulting low level of blood sugar causes a person to exhibit signs of:

  • nervousness and shakiness
  • perspiration
  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • confusion, and difficulty speaking

First Aid for anyone with hypoglycemia starts with getting sugar into their blood stream quickly:

  • If the person is unconscious or disoriented, immediately call 911 and do not force food or drink, especially if they cannot swallow. Trained responders can deliver a glucagon injection, if a supply is readily available.
  • Check to see if the person has any glucose tablets, and quickly hand them 2 or 3 pills.
  • Beverages that contain sugar can be quickly ingested if there is no medication available. Offer the person a glass of milk, fruit juice, or regular soda,
  • Foods that contain mostly sugar can also be consumed such as hard candy, honey, or a couple of packets of sugar. 

The symptoms of insulin or diabetic shock may seem mild at first. But they should not be ignored. If the condition is not treated quickly, hypoglycemia can become a very serious condition that can lead to a coma and even death.     

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Canker Sores

Anyone can develop a canker sore. Canker sores are small, painful red wounds that occur inside of a person’s mouth on the cheek, gums or tongue. The middle of a canker sore can be white or yellow, and may turn a grayish color before starting to heal.

Canker sores can be caused by cheek biting, dentures or braces, as well as vigorous tooth brushing.  Sores are also caused by burns from eating foods that are extremely hot.  Canker sores can be triggered by many other things such as: emotional stress, food allergies, or the lack of  vitamins and minerals in a person’s diet.

Less common symptoms include: Fever, General malaise, or swollen lymph nodes.

First Aid for Canker sores starts with cleaning the sore: The bubbling action of an oxygenating cleanser will help remove food particles and disinfect the area. The easiest home remedy is a mixture of half hydrogen peroxide and half water. Use a cotton swab to apply the mixture directly to the canker sore. Then, dab a small amount of Milk of Magnesia on the canker sore, three to four times a day. This is soothing and may also help it heal.

Another home remedy is to mix half Milk of Magnesia and half Benadryl liquid allergy medicine. Swish this mixture in your mouth for about 1 minute, then spit it out. Be careful when using this remedy with children since the Benadryl can cause toxicity. Canker sores usually heal on their own in 10 to 14 days, and the pain should only last for a few days.

To prevent bacterial infection from canker sores, brush and floss your teeth regularly and get routine dental check-ups. Apply home treatment and call your health care provider if symptoms of canker sores persist or worsen, or canker sores recur more often than 2 or 3 times per year. You should also call your health care provider if canker sore symptoms are accompanied by fever, diarrhea, headache, or skin rash.

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Calluses

Corns and calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop on feet, toes, and hands.  Although formed as the body’s natural response to constant friction and pressure, corns and calluses can become unsightly and painful.

If a corn or callus is causing you discomfort, the best first aid remedy is to find a way to eliminate the friction or pressure that is causing your skin to harden.

Corns, for example, are often caused by wearing the wrong type of shoes. When shoes are too tight or have high heels, they put pressure on specific areas of your foot. When shoes are too loose, your foot will repeatedly slide around and rub against the shoe. Your foot can also rub against a stitch or seam inside of a certain kind of shoe.

Buying shoes that fit comfortably and snugly, will help current corns heal, and prevent new ones from forming. It is also important to wear socks that fit properly, even with sandals. Wearing shoes and sandals without socks causes friction on your feet that can lead to blisters and corns.

Calluses on your hands often result from constantly gripping tools when working.  Whether on the job, in the garden, or around your home: wear protective gloves to help prevent calluses from forming.

If you have diabetes or poor circulation, or your corn or callus is very painful and inflamed, see your doctor before self-treating.  For people with diabetes, any minor foot injury could lead to an infected open sore, or develop into a foot ulcer that is difficult to heal.  Remember, it is always wise to seek medical attention if you believe you have an infection.

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Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that develops in moist areas between the toes and on other parts of the foot. Athlete’s foot is contagious, but most cases can be easily treated at home. Symptoms of Athletes foot include:

  • Itching, stinging, and burning irritation in some areas of the feet,
  • Dry, cracking, scaling, and peeling skin between the toes or on the soles of the feet;
  • And ragged, thick, and discolored toenails that pull away from the nail bed.

First aid treatment of mild cases of athlete’s foot can be done at home.  There are many over-the-counter antifungal ointments, lotions, powders or sprays available. When using an over-the-counter remedy:

  • Thoroughly wash and dry the affected area.
  • Next, apply a thin layer of the topical agent according to package directions.
  • Keep your feet dry and let them air out as much as possible when at home.
  • When working, wear socks that are made of natural materials such as cotton or wool.  If your feet sweat a lot, try to change your socks at least twice a day.
  • To prevent spreading athlete’s foot fungus, wear waterproof shower shoes or sandals in communal showers, pools, and fitness centers.
  • If you don’t see an improvement after 2-4 weeks, or if the condition worsens, make an appointment to see your doctor. You may need a prescription-strength topical medication or oral medication to treat the athlete’s foot more effectively.

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