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How do I Treat a Copperhead Snake Bite?

Anna T.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A copperhead snake bite is typically not deadly to adults, but treating the bite is still essential. If someone you know has been bitten by a copperhead, the first thing you should do is call for medical help right away. While you wait for assistance, you need to calm the bitten person down and examine the wound. Remove any clothing that is covering the wound, and try to keep it at a level below the heart. If you have access to soap and water, wash the bitten area thoroughly.

If medical help does not arrive within 30 minutes after a person has been bitten, you may need to wrap a bandage a couple of inches above the bite. Be careful not to make it too tight because you don't want to cut off the person's circulation. You could also dampen a piece of wound dressing and apply to the bite to help keep it from swelling. Pay close attention to the bitten person to see how she is feeling. Even though a copperhead snake bite is not typically deadly, some people are more sensitive to snake venom than others.

The person who has been bitten may complain of severe pain and nausea, and he might also begin vomiting. These reactions are usually typical with a copperhead snake bite. The bitten area will most likely begin to swell, which is why it is important to remove any clothing that may be constricting the area. When a copperhead snake bite is left untreated, there is a risk of damage to muscle tissue that could become permanent. A doctor can use an antivenin, which is an antidote to the venom of poisonous snakes, to treat the person who has been bitten.

There are several things you should avoid trying to do if you are attempting to treat a copperhead snake bite. You should never use a tourniquet above the snake wound because this could cut off the circulation of the bitten person, which might make amputation necessary. It's also not a good idea to make cuts in a person's skin to try to drain the venom out. This usually does not work, and you will have left the bitten person with more scars in addition to what may be left by the snake bite. Additionally, you should never try to suck snake venom out of a wound because it could cause you to become poisoned as well, particularly if you have any small cuts inside your mouth.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Anna T.
By Anna T.
Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to The Health Board. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.

Discussion Comments

By anon1005402 — On Aug 20, 2021

I just got bit by a copperhead today on the hand. Now my sight is blurred and my heart is beating really fast. What else can I expect from this?

By SteamLouis — On Oct 09, 2013

@ZipLine-- That's right, the point of bandaging in copperhead snake bite treatment is to keep the venom from spreading. This is also why the site of the bite should be kept as immobile as possible. So if the snake bite is on the hand, the hand should be kept as still as possible while going to the hospital.

Also, it's a good idea to remove rings and watches from the hand. Or they might have to be cut off later for removal because of the swelling.

By stoneMason — On Oct 08, 2013

@ZipLine-- I'm not sure but I think the point of bandaging above the bite is to limit the venom from spreading and to reduce swelling.

I was bit by a copperhead snake many years ago. I got to the hospital quickly so I didn't have many complications, bu I had immense swelling. I don't remember too much now, but I was given a medication at the hospital and an IV serum. I also had to have a minor procedure where the doctors made an incision on my arm to reduce the swelling.

By ZipLine — On Oct 08, 2013

May I ask what is the purpose of a bandage above the snake bite? Shouldn't it be over the snake bite?

Anna T.

Anna T.

Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to The Health Board. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.
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