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A female asked:

I was bitten and scratched by a cat about an hour ago on my hand. is some swelling normal or indicate infection? i poured peroxide on the wounds and then applied lots of bacitracin. i am concerned that these punctures and scratches are a little swollen, a

2 doctor answers3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Jeffrey Wint
Hand Surgery 36 years experience
Bacitracin : Bacitracin is not enough to prevent infection. Some swelling is normal, after a bite b u t....... Cats carry a bacteria in their saliva. Your skin also carries bacteria on it despite your hands being clean their is a natural bacterial flora on normal skin. A cat bite is generally a sharp deep puncture that may carry either type of bacteria and since it is deep it is hard to wash out. The typical antibiotic used for infection after a cat bite is Augmentin (amoxicillin and clavulanate) in a non penicillin allergic person. If someone is allergic to penicillins, then the chose is different. Specifically, pasteurella multocida is the most common bacteria from cat bites that is present in a cats mouth that causes infection in humans but staph species on the human skin also can also cause infection. Finally the swelling from the trauma of the bite, may fool all, but its best to be safe and rapid swelling that continues and begins to get red might need not only antibiotics but drainage by a surgeon.
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Dr. Robert Gluck
Hand Surgery 40 years experience
If : If we were talking about just scratching you would likely be ok with what you did. But the biting concerns me. Animal (and human) bite wounds need to be carefully evaluated and cleansed. If there is even a chance that the bite penetrated a joint there is a possibility of joint infection and this can be quite serious. Even away from the joint animal bites innoculate with multiple organisms and some especially virulent ones and some that grow well in deep wounds. Bottom line you should seek medical attention. The wound should be carefully cleansed and left at least partially open (beware of Bacitracin in this regard as the wound can be sealed and systemic antibiotics are typically more effective) lastly, as to the scratch there is the possibiltiy of developing so-called "cat scratch fever" on a delayed basis so discuss this with your medical provider so you know what to watch out for. Best of luck.
Created for people with ongoing healthcare needs but benefits everyone.
Last updated Oct 4, 2016


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