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First Aid for Snakebite : Effects, Treatment & Symptoms

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Globally, there are about four lakh cases of Snakebite (SB) each year where the consequences of the injected venom cause permanent damage. Many snakes' venoms contain dermonecrotic, cytotoxic, myotoxic, or hemorrhagic components, which cause impairments ranging from local skin, muscle, and connective tissue degradation to death. Here is how you can be aware of Snakebite and manage the situation in an emergency.




Are all snakes dangerous?

No, all snakes are not dangerous. However, there is a section that’s dangerous and their bites can result in severe damage and, in extreme cases, death.

Effects of Snakebite

Snakebite can result in a wide range of problems. Skin damage, muscle damage and function loss are some of the effects. It can also be fatal in some scenarios.

Symptoms of Snakebite

Listed below are some prominent symptoms of SB. 

  • A large number of SB occur on the extremities. Pain and scrapes at the bite site are common signs of a nonvenomous SB.

  • After a poisonous SB, there is usually acute scorching agony at the location for 15 to 30 minutes. This can lead to swelling and bruising around the incision and the arm or leg. Other indications and symptoms include nausea, difficulty breathing, weakness, and an unusual taste on the tongue.

  • A poisonous snake may bite without injecting venom. These "dry bites" cause inflammation at the spot.

Who is at risk?

Each year, almost sixty thousand Indians are killed by Snakebite envenoming. People in villages and agricultural labourers in India are particularly hard hit. Their dependence on non-mechanised, low-cost farming techniques and barefoot farming habits puts them in danger of bites, particularly during the monsoon season when agricultural operations and snake breeding seasons tend to overlap. Other characteristics connected with an increased chance of snake encounters include poor living conditions, low illumination, sleeping on the floor, and outside toilets.

Recommendation: People who believe they have been bitten by a poisonous snake should be sent to a medical institution as soon as possible. This refers to a health centre with the basic capabilities required to address immediate emergency care needs.

First Aid for Snakebite

Here are some quick action items. 

  • Completely immobilise the individual. To keep the limb motionless, splint it. Use an improvised stretcher to move the person to a location where transportation is available-take them to a health facility.

  • A tight arterial tourniquet should never be used.

  • In rare circumstances, applying pressure to the bite site using a pressure pad may be appropriate. A pressure immobilisation bandage is apt for poisonous SB.

  • Avoid using traditional first aid procedures, herbal remedies, and other untested or dangerous first aid methods.

  • Transport the individual to a medical institution as quickly as feasible.

  • For local pain, paracetamol may be used (which can be severe).

  • Vomiting may occur, placing the client in recovery on the left side.

  • Keep an eye on the airway and breathing, and be prepared to resuscitate if required.

  • Treatment at the hospital will be determined by the type of snake. If the snake were poisonous, the individual would get antivenom therapy. In certain instances, the medical practitioner might suggest a tetanus shot.

  • Antivenom is most effective if delivered within 4 hours after the bite. However, it is effective even if given within 24 hours. The dose necessary depends on the severity of the envenomation.

How to put on a pressure immobilisation bandage?

To apply a pressure immobilisation bandage, follow these steps.

  1. First, apply a pressure bandage to the bite. It should be snug, with no room for a finger to slip between the bandage and the skin.

  2. Move to immobilise. Start above the bitten area and work your way up the limb to the torso. Splint the limb, including the joints on both sides.

  3. Keep the person and the limb entirely at rest. 

Words of caution

Many victims do not seek medical attention, which can cause several problems. Immediate medical intervention is ideal to deal with SB. Also, keep the following in mind.

1.  Do not use a tourniquet or ice.

2.  Avoid cutting the wound or proceeding to bring out the poison.

3.  Avoid coffee and alcohol, which might hasten your body's absorption of venom.

4.Pondering over the predator’s colour, it might be helpful during therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here is a list of commonly asked questions on Snakebite and its first aid management.


What is the most critical first-aid treatment for a venomous Snakebite?

Lay or sit comfortably with the bite in a neutral position. Remove jewellery and watch before the swelling begins. Soap and water should be used to clean the bite. Apply a dry dressing to the bite. Write the time next to the leading edge of tenderness/swelling on the skin.

Is it possible to survive SB without medical attention?

Ideally, you should seek medical attention within half an hour of SB. If the bite is not treated, your physical functions will deteriorate over the next two or three days, and the bite may result in a fatality.

What is the best way to manage a snake bite?

In rare circumstances, applying pressure to the bite site using a pressure pad may be appropriate. Avoid using traditional first aid procedures, herbal remedies, and other such measures. Transport the individual to a medical institution as quickly as feasible. For local pain, which can be severe, paracetamol may be used.

Should a SB be washed?

Do not wash the bitten location. Remember that immobilisation is an important first-aid measure; ensure that it is followed to perfection. Reach out to a doctor immediately.

What is first-aid therapy for a Snakebite?

Allow the individual to lie down with the wound below the heart. Keep the sufferer cool and immobile to prevent the poison from spreading. Wrap the wound in a sterile bandage. Remove any jewellery from the bitten area.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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