Puncture wounds are any type of wound that breaks the skin and goes significantly below the surface. Most puncture wounds are caused by such things as needles, tacks, teeth, nails, knives and picks. The most serious puncture wounds are caused by things like animal bites and rusty nails.
Because they go deeper than just the surface skin, puncture wounds must be watched carefully as they become easily infected. This is because the wound goes into a closed warm, moist place where bacteria thrive.
If you are dealing with a small puncture wound, and the offending object is small, such as a needle or tack, remove it. Make sure that nothing has broken off within the wound. Allow it to bleed freely. This lets the wound clean itself. Clean the area thoroughly with warm water and a mild soap. Never use iodine, Mercurochrome, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide to clean a puncture wound. Once the area is clean, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment. Bandage loosely.
If you are dealing with a large puncture wound, and the bleeding is not extreme, let the wound bleed freely for a few moments. Clean thoroughly, but gently, and apply a thin layer of antibiotic cream. Bandage loosely.
If a puncture wound is squirting blood, bleeding extensively, or may contain any residue, seek medical help.
All puncture wounds, especially major ones, should be watched carefully, to check for signs of infection.
Animal bites can be extremely dangerous. If you know the animal’s owner, contact them immediately to make sure the vaccinations are up to date. If the animal is a stray contact animal control. Animal bites always cause the possibility of rabies. If your doctor suggest it, rabies treatments should be started immediately.
In the case of any puncture wound it is important that tetanus shots are up to date. If you have not had one in the past five years, you may need a booster.
Call your physician immediately if:
1. The wound shows any sign of infection, such as the discharge of pus, redness, swelling, tenderness, increasing pain, warmth around the wound or fever.
2. If the wound is caused by a human or animal bite.
3. If the wound is deep and in the head, neck, chest, or abdomen.
4. If bleeding cannot be immediately controlled.
5. If the wound appears to need stitches. Stitching is most effective if done in the first eight hours.
6. If the skin around the wound is cold, numb, blue or white.
7. If you cannot move the limb area below the wound itself.
8. If you cannot get the object out of the wound.
9. If the wound has gone through a boot or shoe.
10. If you have any concerns about the wound or the necessity for tetanus shots.