Puncture Wounds

A puncture wound is a deep wound made by a sharp object, such as a nail, a jagged piece of metal, or a piece of wood. Puncture wounds may be small in diameter and may not seem serious. They do, however, require treatment by a doctor.

Puncture wounds may become infected easily, because dirt and germs are carried deep into the tissues. Sometimes, an infection may be delayed, so it is very important to have your child see a doctor 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 become contaminated with sock and shoe particles and also have a high risk of infection. Infections with bacteria that cause long-term bone infections can occur. 

First aid for puncture wounds

  • Calm your child, and let him know you can help.
  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding. If the bleeding is profuse, hold pressure for 5-10 minutes without stopping 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 wound with soap and water. Do not scrub the wound to avoid further tissue injury. Remove any dirt particles from the area, and rinse the wound under the water faucet for 5 minutes.
  • Cover the area with an adhesive bandage or gauze. Do not use tape or butterfly bandages to close the wound as this could trap harmful bacteria in the wound.  
  • Call your child's doctor. If bleeding is severe, call 911 or take your child to the emergency room for further care.

Treatment for puncture wounds

Once a doctor has seen your child, you will be given specific instructions on 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 doctor. Antibiotics and a tetanus vaccine may be given to help prevent infection in the wound.

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

  • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • Carefully follow the doctor's instructions for wound care.
  • Make sure your child avoids any activity that may cause him to reinjure or open the wound.
  • Observe the wound for signs of infection, such as increased warmth, swelling, redness, drainage, or pain. Call your doctor if these signs develop or if a fever occurs.
  • Return for follow-up care as advised by your child's doctor.