What should I do after contact with someone else’s blood or saliva?

While the risk of serious infection from someone else’s blood or saliva is low, you should take the following steps immediately:

  • wash the blood or saliva off your skin with soap and running water
  • if your skin is broken, encourage the wound to bleed and rinse it thoroughly under running water, but do not scrub or suck the wound
  • wash the blood or saliva out of your eyes with plenty of cold water. If you wear contact lenses, take them out first
  • wash away the blood or body fluids with plenty of cold water. If you're washing out your mouth, spit the water out instead of swallowing it

If you have injured yourself with a used needle, see What should I do if I injure myself with a used needle?

Getting medical advice

If you think you’re at risk of infection, it’s also important to get medical advice immediately. Contact:

  • your GP
  • the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your nearest hospital
  • your employer’s occupational health service or medical adviser, if you injure yourself at work

For more information, see What is the risk of infection from someone else’s blood?

Assessing the risk of infection

Your healthcare professional will assess the risk of infection and decide whether you need any treatment.

They will ask you questions about how and when the injury happened.

Your healthcare professional may also need to assess the risk of the other person having an infection that could be passed on, such as hepatitis B or C, or HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

It may be necessary to take samples of your blood to test it for any infection. They may also arrange to test samples of the other person’s blood, if the other person gives their consent.

Will I need any treatment?

If your healthcare professional considers you’re at low risk of infection, no treatment may be needed.

If there’s an increased risk of infection, they may consider treatment such as immunisation against hepatitis B or antiviral medication for hepatitis C.

If there’s a high risk of infection with HIV, you may be referred to the A&E department of your local hospital for a treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which can sometimes halt the development of HIV in the first 72 hours after infection. PEP involves treatment with anti-HIV medicines for four weeks.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 03/04/2013

Next review due: 02/04/2015