Puncture Wound

What is a puncture wound?

A puncture wound is any wound caused by something sharp and narrow that stabs through the skin and into the soft tissue. Common examples of puncture wounds are animal bites, knife wounds, and wounds from stepping on a nail or toothpick.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water before you touch the wound.  

  • Remove pieces of broken wood, metal, glass, dirt, or anything else that got into the wound that you can easily see, but do not probe in the wound.  

  • Wash the wound as thoroughly as possible with warm water and soap.  

  • Put pressure on the wound with a bandage or clean cloth until the bleeding stops. When the bleeding has stopped, put an antibiotic ointment on the wound and cover it with a bandage.  

  • Keep the wound covered with a clean bandage until it heals. Change the bandage each day or whenever it gets wet or dirty until the skin has healed.  

  • Take nonprescription medicine for pain.  

It usually takes about a week for minor injuries to heal.

Do I need to come to Reddy Urgent Care?

Come to Reddy Urgent Care if:

  • The wound does not stop bleeding after you have put pressure on it for 10 minutes.  

  • The wound is from an animal or human bite.  

  • The wound is deep, large, or jagged or it gapes open.  

  • The wound is on the face and you are concerned about scarring.  

  • The area around the wound feels numb.  

  • There is any possibility that some part of what punctured you is still in the wound–a broken piece of glass, metal, or wood, for example.  

  • The thing that caused the wound either was dirty or went through your shoe.  

  • It has been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot.  

You may need to have your provider clean the wound and possibly close it with tape, adhesive, or stitches. You may need antibiotics to prevent infection.

You may also need a tetanus shot. Tetanus is a serious infection that is also known as lockjaw. If it has been more than 5 years since your last shot, you may need a shot.

Tetanus vaccine is normally given every 10 years, but you may be due for another shot if you have a dirty wound and it has been more than 5 years since your last shot.

What should I watch for?

Watch the wound for signs of infection over the next few days. Return to Reddy Urgent Care for a recheck if:

  • The skin is becoming redder or more painful.  

  • The wound becomes swollen.  

  • You have red streaks from the wound.  

  • Pus is draining from the wound.  

  • The wound does not heal.  

  • The wound site keeps hurting, which can mean sharp objects or debris are still inside the wound.