What should I do after contact with someone else's blood or saliva?
The risk of serious infection from someone else's blood or saliva is low, but you should take the following steps immediately:
- wash the blood or saliva off your skin with soap and lots of running water
- if your skin is broken, encourage the wound to bleed and rinse it thoroughly under running water – but don't scrub or suck the wound
- wash the blood or saliva out of your eyes, nose or mouth with lots of cold water – if you wear contact lenses, rinse before and after taking them out, and spit the water out after washing your mouth
Getting medical advice
If you think you're at risk of infection, get immediate medical advice from your:
- employer's occupational health service or medical adviser if you come into contact with someone else's blood or saliva – or injure yourself – while at work
Assessing the risk of infection
The healthcare professional you see will assess the risk of infection and decide whether you need any treatment. They'll ask how and when the incident happened.
Samples of your blood may need to be tested for infection. The other person's blood may also be tested, if they give their consent.
Will I need any treatment?
You may not need treatment if you're thought to be at low risk of infection. If there's an increased risk of infection, treatments such as immunisation against hepatitis B or antiviral medication for hepatitis C may be recommended.
If there's a high risk of infection with HIV, you may be referred to your local hospital's HIV department for a treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP can sometimes stop the infection, but it's only effective if it's started within 72 hours of exposure to the virus.