Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Snake bite can be a serious issue in some cases. Along with medical treatment, some of the important dos and don’ts for snake bites can help in faster recovery.
Everyone fears getting bit by a snake. Although every snake is not venomous, a viper is surely never welcomed in our homes, gardens, or condominium playgrounds. Among the 3,000 snake species in the world, only 600 are poisonous. However, it is always safer to be cautious around snakes, since a snake bite can trigger serious complications if not treated in time.

Dos and Don'ts for Snake Bites

Dos and Don'ts for Snake Bites

Knowing the symptoms and signs of snake bite helps in managing the dos and don’ts of snake bites in a better way. Some common symptoms of snake bites are vomiting, swelling, sweating, extreme pain, shivering, rapid heartbeat, skin discoloration and breathing difficulty. A poisonous snake bite can cause serious tissue damage or necrosis, and paralysis of the skeletal and respiratory muscles.

Hence, snake bite cases must receive immediate medical attention. In less severe cases, the doctor would assess the patient for complications like retained snake tooth fragments in the wound. When needed, the doctor would also suture lacerations to make sure that tetanus booster is given when required. Snake bites with severe envenomation are treated with anti-venom which are generally made from equine antibodies. The doctor would administer the anti-venom only after conducting a skin test on the patient to rule out possibility of being allergic to the medicine. Along with getting the right treatment, one would also need to practice the following dos and don’ts of snake bites to ensure better and faster recovery.

Do’s for Snake Bites

A snake bite sufferer should:

Stay Calm and Call For Medical Help

The victim of a snake bite must stay calm, not panic, and seek immediate medical help. This is one of the most crucial dos for snake bites. These individuals should be made to lie in a semi-reclined position with the bite wound under the level of the heart. This would help to restrict the poison from spreading to other areas of the body until medical aid arrives.

Immobilize the Bitten Limb

In order to slow down the poison from spreading in the body, a bandage should be tied 2 to 4 inches above the wound. If the bandage is tied too tightly, the bite area would become numb and cold, in which case one can loosen the bandage. Further, a splint can be used to immobilize the wounded limb. This too is one of the most basic dos for snake bites.

Clean the Wound

In case of bleeding, one should first try to stop the blood by applying pressure on the bite. Once the bleeding stops, the wound should be cleaned with soap and water to prevent infection. The wound should never be washed under running water. Finally, the bite wound should be dressed up, properly, as an essential part of the dos for snake bites.

Get Prompt Medical Help

Generally, snake bites that are not accompanied by discoloration or swelling within the first 5 minutes, are not venomous. However, in case of certain snake bites, these signs tend to appear only after many hours. Since a snake bite can potentially be fatal, it is best to treat it as a medical emergency. Thus, seeking immediate medical help is one of the most important dos for snake bites.

Don’ts For Snake Bites

Just like one needs to know the dos for snake bites, certain don’ts for snake bites are equally essential to be aware of.

When bitten by a snake, one should never:

  • Apply ice on the bite wound since ice blocks blood flow, so make sure you remember this don’t for snake bites.
  • Suck the blood out with their mouth as the germs in the mouth can cause infection in the wound. It can also expose the individual to the venom. This is one of the dangerous steps and hence one of the important don’ts for snake bites.
  • Try to cut the wound. This too is one of the essential don’ts for snake bites, as it can increase the risk of complications.
  • Attempt to guess whether the snake was poisonous or not, depending on its physical characteristics, to decide if treatment is needed or not.

Things to Remember

Prevention is the ideal cure in addition to all the dos and don’ts for snake bites. To prevent getting bitten by a snake, one should always wear covered shoes when outdoors. They should avoid going into regions with dense undergrowth when walking in forested areas. Snakes commonly hide in damp and dark places. So, people should dispose any big piles of rubbish from the vicinity of their home. When confronted by a snake, one should stay very calm and composed and must not move until the snake slithers away. They should not attempt to handle a snake even when it appears dead since a snake can bite in reflex even many hours after its death.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 3, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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