Snake Bite

ExitCare ImageSnakes may be either venomous (containing poison) or nonvenomous (nonpoisonous). A nonvenomous snake bite will cause trauma or a wound to the skin and possibly the deeper tissues. A venomous snake will also cause a traumatic wound, but more importantly, it may have injected venom into the wound. Snake bite venom can be extremely serious and even deadly. One type of venom may cause major skin, tissue and muscle damage, and failure of normal blood clotting. This may cause extreme swelling and pain of the affected area. Another type of venom can affect the brain and nervous system and may cause death. The treatment for venomous snake bite may require the use of antivenom medicine. If you are unsure if your bite is from a venomous snake, you MUST seek immediate medical attention.


  • You have no idea when you had the last one.

  • You have never had a tetanus shot before.

  • The bite broke your skin.

If you need a tetanus shot, and you decide not to get one, there is a rare chance of getting tetanus. Sickness from tetanus can be serious.


A snake bit you and caused a skin wound. It may or may not have been venomous. If the snake was venomous, a small amount of venom may have been injected into your skin.

  • Keep the bite area clean and dry.

  • Keep the extremity elevated above the level of the heart for the next 48 hours.

  • Wash the bite area 3 times daily with soap and water or an antiseptic. Apply an adhesive or gauze bandage to the bite area.

  • If you develop blistering of any type at the site of the bite, protect the blisters from breaking. Do not attempt to open it.

  • If you were given a tetanus shot, your arm may get swollen, red and warm at the shot site. This is a common response to the injection.


  • You develop symptoms of poisoning including increased pain, redness, swelling, blood blisters or purple spots in the bite area, nausea, vomiting, numbness, tingling, excessive sweating, breathing difficulty, blurred vision, feelings of lightheadedness, or feeling faint. If you develop symptoms of poisoning, you MUST seek immediate medical attention.

  • The bite becomes infected. Symptoms may include redness, swelling, pain, tenderness, pus, red streaks running from the wound, or an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C), not controlled by medicine.

  • Your condition or wound becomes worse.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.