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How do you minimize scars from a dog bite?

Dog bites are always serious. Whether the dog is a 120-pound rottweiler or a 20-pound chihuahua, it isn't just the size of the bite that's the problem -- infection, jagged wounds and other complications can leave you with significant scar tissue.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the scars. Consider the following tips:

1. Seek immediate treatment.

If you've been bitten, seek medical treatment. Even if the bite is fairly small, any bite that breaks the skin can be serious. If the wound is open, you may need to first seek attention at the local emergency room just to have the wound cleaned and get a prescription for antibiotics, and then seek treatment with a plastic surgeon who can suture the wounds in a way that will heal with minimal scar tissue.

2. Be wary of infection.

Infection can make it harder to heal and make scars worse. Pay close attention to your wounds for any signs of warmth and growing redness, pus, swelling that returns after initially going away and unusual pain. All of those can be signs that an infection is growing in the wound.

3. Look for additional treatment.

Even the best early-intervention can't always stop a scar from forming. Some people are simply genetically prone to scarring more easily than others, and some wounds can't easily be healed -- especially if they are on your face or hands.

If you develop scars, continue seeking treatment. Some of your potential options include ointments and creams that are designed to minimize scars, skin grafts, dermabrasion (which removes the upper layer of skin and can reduce the appearance of raised scars in particular) and laser surgery. A dermatologist can often help you figure out the best option based on your skin type, the nature of your scars and their location on your body.

It's also important to consider seeking compensation for your injuries. Many of the treatments that reduce scars are expensive and time-consuming, so your losses may continue for a long time after the actual attack. An attorney can discuss your case with you and advise you of your legal options.

Source: Healthline, "Animal BIte," accessed July 19, 2017

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