Snake Bites: What to do…

Recently I was walking through Al Lopez park on the paved path and I spotted a curious snake. It was a water moccasin (aka cottonmouth). This snake is one of several venomous snakes that can cause severe complications and even death. Needless to say I stayed clear of it and kept walking. Cottonmouths can be very aggressive and will sometimes attack people especially if provoked. Snake bites are considered a medical emergency and should be taken very seriously. Small children are at a higher risk since their body size is smaller. Here is a short list of venomous snakes in the United States.

  • Cobra
  • Copperhead
  • Coral Snake
  • Cottonmouth
  • Rattlesnake

If bitten by a snake the most common symptoms are bleeding, blurred vision, burning skin, convulsions, dizziness, sweating, fever, nausea, rapid pulse, severe pain, swelling, redness at the site, weakness, numbness, and loss of muscle coordination. These symptoms have no particular order and can vary in severity. Take note that even if you are not having any symptoms or severe pain the bite could still be deadly and immediate medical attention will still be required. Here is a list of first aid actions that can be taken after a bite.

  1. Keeping the person calm and limiting movement will help to avoid rapid spread of the venom. Keep the affected area below the level of the heart.
  2. Get Medical help right away. Call 911
  3. Remove any rings, bracelets, or any other constricting items that may be a problem if the affected area swells.
  4. Check vital signs. Breathing, pulse, and blood pressure.
  5. Attempt to bring in the dead snake if it is possible. Snakes can still bite as a post mortem reflex so exercise extreme caution with capture.

Please do not allow the person to be come overly exerted so that their heart rate is increased. If blood flow is increased then the venom may spread quicker throughout the body and this will cause more severe symptoms. Do not apply a tourniquet, no cold compresses, and also do not cut into the wound. Do not try to suck the venom out and do not give the person anything by mouth. The risk of choking is very high especially if the person becomes unresponsive.

Avoid snake bites by keeping away from areas such as under logs and rocks. Snakes love to hide underneath things so avoiding these ares will decrease the chance of an encounter. Do not provoke snakes and try to avoid picking them up. If hiking use a walking stick and tap the ground in front of you so that the snake may become visible. Wearing tall boots and long pants can also help.

After the bite has taken place the bite wound may need surgical intervention. The doctors of Advanced Podiatry are familiar with all types of wounds and can perform plastic procedures that can help to restore the skin to a healthy and viable nature. The reconstruction of the skin will occur after the bite is treated and the victim is stable. Call (813) 875-0555 if you or a loved one has suffered a snake bite and needs tissue restoration.