Conditions + Treatments

Treatments for Snake Bites in Children

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Treatment for poisonous snake bites

Remain calm and reassure your child that you can help. Your child's physician will determine specific treatment for a snake bite.

Initial treatment includes:

  • Move your child to a nearby safe area, away from the snake.
  • Call for emergency assistance immediately. Antivenin should be given within four hours when possible. It is not usually effective if given more than 12 hours after the bite.

While waiting for emergency assistance:

  • Monitor your child's heart rate and breathing.
  • Have your child lie down, rest, and keep calm.
  • Wash the bite with soap and water.
  • Keep him warm. Avoid cooling the area to prevent further tissue damage.
  • Remove all rings, watches, and constrictive clothing in case of swelling.
  • Loosely immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart.
  • Don't give your child anything to eat or drink.
  • Monitor heart rate and breathing.

If you are unable to reach medical care quickly

If you cannot reach medical care within 30 minutes, the American Red Cross recommends:

  • Applying a bandage, wrapped two to four inches above your child's bite, to help slow the venom. This should not cut off the flow of blood from a vein or artery - the band should be loose enough to slip a finger under it.

  • noting the time of the bite so that it can be reported to an emergency room physician if needed.

  • if possible, trying to remember to draw a circle around the affected area and mark the time of the bite and the initial reaction. If you are able, redraw the circle around the site of injury marking the progression of time.

  • if possible, noting what the snake looks like, its size, and the type of snake, in order to inform the emergency room staff.

  • not applying a tourniquet.

Hospital treatment

Hospital treatment may include the use of antivenin (an antidote to snake venom). Treatment may also include lab work, pain or sedation medications, tetanus booster, antibiotics and supportive care.

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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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