Infected animal bite: How to manage swollen fingers

An infected animal bite is likely to result to swollen fingers especially among children. Dogs are the main cause of animal bites, but other animals can also inflict bites such as rodents, cats and even farm animals.

The usual complication after an animal bite is infection. Bites from cats poses as the highest risk for infection since their sharp teeth penetrate deep into the tissues. One of the initial signs of an infected animal bite in the hand is swollen fingers. Various measures can be used to lessen the severity and lessen the risk for complications.

What are the indications of an infection


It is important to note that the hand and fingers are at high risk for infection after an animal bite.

It is important to note that the hand and fingers are at high risk for infection after an animal bite. This is brought about by the complex anatomy and poor supply of blood to some of the deep-seated tissue constructions.

The degree of penetration of the wound usually defines the type of infection. For superficial bites or scratches, it can cause cellulitis. A deeper bite can affect the finger tendons or bones.

The indications of infection generally include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Drainage of pus
  • Red streaks radiating from the wound
  • Reduced mobility
  • Finger pain
  • Loss of circulation from the swelling which causes bluish or pale fingers

The signs of a serious infection include night sweats, fever and chills as well as loss of sensation to the fingers.

How to manage swollen fingers

Treatment must be started early to lessen the seriousness of the swollen fingers. Thorough cleansing of the wound after being bitten is a vital step.

Cleanse the wound using warm water and soap for up to 5 minutes right after a bite to get rid of saliva and dirt that contain bacteria. In case bleeding is present, apply direct pressure using gauze or a clean cloth and raise the hand to control the swelling. You can gently scrub the wound to lower the risk for swollen fingers from infection.

The potential for swelling can be lessened by applying an antiseptic solution or antibiotic ointment after cleansing. Anti-inflammatory medications can be given to control the swelling from mild infections as well as relieve the pain and lower the fever. Cover the wound with sterile dressing or bandage to prevent reinfection.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on dealing with swollen fingers from an infected animal bite is for learning purposes only. Learn to properly manage the swelling by taking a standard first aid course with Kelowna First Aid.