June 14, 2016 at 1:48 PM EST - Updated July 24 at 6:42 PM
“Obviously, this time of year as we start getting into the warmer months, parents are very concerned about snake bites if they have seen a snake on their property or if they are around an area where snake bites have been reported,” says Dr. Mark Flanzenbaum, M.D., FAAP.
Initially, the most important thing is to recognize the type of snake and to know if it is potentially poisonous.
“The very simple rule of thumb is the two poisonous snakes we typically can see in this area are going to be Copperhead snakes and Water Moccasins, which the color is important,” says Dr. Flanzenbaum, who adds that you can look online for what the colors are. But more importantly, notice the shape of the snake’s head.
“Non-poisonous snakes tend to have more of a round head rather, as opposed to an elliptical or diamond-shaped head,” says Dr. Flanzenbaum. “Poisonous snakes tend to have more slit-like eyes, as opposed to round eyes. So, if you can recognize that, you should be able to tell poisonous versus non-poisonous.”
An adult snake is less likely to cause a bad bite than infantile or juvenile snakes because they have more control over their bite. “They're not trying to hurt you, it's more of a warning," says Dr. Flanzenbaum. "The juvenile snakes tend to be the ones that actually will inject venom much more seriously.”
If you are suspicious of a snake bite in your child, you need to bring them in for evaluation, according to Dr. Jeff Bennett, D.O., FAAP of KidMed.
“A lot of times, kids can't tell you. Oftentimes, you just have to go by symptoms,” says Dr. Bennett. “If your child was in the woods and all of a sudden has unexplained redness or swelling -- typically of their extremity -- they're usually going to get bit on the leg or the hand. If that area is red, swollen or you start seeing muscle spasms, muscle fasciculations, typically, those are going to ascend upwards. If you see those symptoms, you can feel fairly certain that there is a snake bite.”
“There's treatment that can be given depending on the severity in the snake bite. Certainly, you need to make sure that tetanus is covered,” says Dr. Bennett.
Sometimes, not typically early on, but sometimes, antibiotics are warranted.
“Most importantly, specific anti-venom with CroFab. Those kids will require specialist attention, usually in an intensive care unit so they can get CroFab,” says Dr. Bennett.