Puncture Wounds

What is a puncture wound?

A puncture wound is a deep wound made by a sharp object, such as a nail or a jagged piece of metal or wood. Puncture wounds may be small and not seem serious. However, they do need treatment by a healthcare provider. Puncture wounds may become infected easily. This is because dirt and germs are carried deep into the tissues. Sometimes, infection may be delayed, so it is very important to have your child see a healthcare provider for any puncture wound. Foot wounds that happen from punctures with objects found outside have a high risk of infection. Wounds that penetrate through a shoe can be contaminated with sock and shoe particles. In some cases, a piece of the object that punctured you can break off and remain under your skin. Infections with bacteria that can cause long-term bone infections also happen often. 

First aid for puncture wounds

  • Calm your child and let him or her know you can help:

  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding. If the bleeding is severe, push on it with pressure for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not stop to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old one. Do not lift the original cloth.

  • Once bleeding has stopped, wash your hands and then wash the area well with soap and water. Do not scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area. Let the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes.

  • Cover the area with an adhesive bandage or gauze.

  • Call your child's healthcare provider, or if bleeding is severe, call 911 or take your child to the emergency room for further care.

Treatment for puncture wounds

Once a healthcare provider has seen your child, you will be given instructions for how to care for your child's wound. Treatment at home will be based on the location and size of the wound, type of treatment needed, and any special needs noted by the healthcare provider. Antibiotics may be given to help prevent infection in the wound. A tetanus shot may be needed if your child's vaccinations are not up to date.

Some general guidelines for caring for a puncture wound include the following:

  • Keep the area clean and dry.

  • Carefully follow the healthcare provider's instructions for care of the wound.

  • Make sure your child avoids any activity that may cause him or her to reinjure or open the wound.

  • Watch the wound for signs of infection, such as increased warmth, swelling, redness, fluid leaking, or pain.

  • Return for follow-up care as advised by your child's healthcare provider.