Q. Will I get rabies infection through mild scratch?

Answered by
Dr. Arun R Kaushik
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
Published on Aug 22, 2018 and last reviewed on: Sep 03, 2019

Hi doctor,

I am a 35 year old male. While I was walking in road in possession, two dogs were behind me. When one dog tried to cross me and its front left leg touched my right foot toe. I saw nothing in my foot initially and it happened around 9 AM.

At 10 AM, I washed it with soap and I saw a line of 3 cm thick. It resembled the line when we rubber our dry skin. This line disappeared after a wash with soap. Then I saw a skin tag on that line. After that at 11 AM, I rubbed alum on that place but no sensation of burning felt by me. I have a doubt whether the microscopic scratch is covered by alum.

Then at noon I used after shave lotion on my foot to check scratches but do not feel any burning sensation.

My doubts are as follows.

  1. Can scratch without bleeding after washing with soap get sensed by after shave lotion?
  2. Why lemon juice cannot create any burning sensation?
  3. Is there any break in my toe?
  4. Can potash alum find any microscopic scratch that is not visible in bare eye?
  5. Can dog claw carry rabies virus?
  6. Will I get rabies virus through this scratch?
  7. Am I too late to apply the above skin irritant to wash it?

Please help me.

Dr. Arun R Kaushik

Critical Care Physician Geriatrics Microbiology


Welcome to icliniq.com.

From what you have written, I feel that you have a grade one scratch. Since no bleeding was there, you need not worry.

Usually claws do not contain any virus, but cannot always be sure. I suggest you to get a prophylactic vaccination done for rabies. Usually, dose of three.

For further information consult a general practitioner online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/general-practitioner

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Hi doctor,

I am still not confident about the scratch. I have attached the photos. Please explain to me in detail.

Dr. Arun R Kaushik

Critical Care Physician Geriatrics Microbiology


Welcome back to icliniq.com.

My detailed answer for your questions are as follows.

The after shave lotion is an alcohol based solution which will clean the skin area. Only when it contacts with sensitive areas, especially with the deeper layers of skin and muscle or blood you will have the burning sensation.

There is no bleeding means the scratch is superficial and no blood capillaries are damaged. So, there was no burning sensation after you washed and added after shave lotion.

Regarding lemon juice too the same reason. Lemon juice is having citric acid which burns only on contact with sensitive areas of the body. The outermost layer of skin has only dead skin and keratin and especially in the foot, the skin is thicker that is the keratin part which has no sensation.

I am not able to see any break in the skin. The potash alum used to cool the skin and so there is some degree of dryness.

There is nothing called microscopic scratch. So, no difference as far as I know. Any scratch which leads to destruction of the sensitive area of the skin can be felt.

If dog has scratched itself, and has touched its saliva or blood then can have some virus particles in its claw.

Going by the history you have provided and the photos (attachment removed to protect patient identity), yours is grade one scratch and it do not lead to rabies. But, as I have already told getting a prophylaxis of three injections will help.

Washing as early as possible is recommended. Please wash only with running tap water and soap. Others are not recommended.

I suggest you to take the prophylaxis and forget about the incident as from what you have given the history, it is unlikely that scratch can lead to rabies.

Probable diagnosis:

Dog claw scratch.

Treatment plan:

1. Injection Rabipur prophylactic dose.
2. Injection Tetanus toxoid IM stat if not taken in last six months to one year.

Preventive measures:

Watch the dog for 10 days.

Regarding follow up:

Revert back if there is any pain or swelling on the foot to a general practitioner online.---> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/general-practitioner

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