Puncture Wound Treatment
Call 911 if a puncture wound:
- Bleeds excessively
- Spurts blood
- Does not stop bleeding after 10 minutes of firm pressure
- Is to the chest, abdomen, or neck and there are any emergency symptoms: severe pain, fast breathing or trouble breathing, vomiting, dizziness, unconsciousness
- Is to the eye or in the throat. Leave the object in place. Keep the person calm.
Call or see a health care provider immediately if:
- The object that caused the puncture wound cannot be easily removed
- The puncture wound was to the chest, abdomen, or neck but there are no emergency symptoms
- The wound is visibly dirty
- The wound is an animal or human bite
- The wound occurred through the bottom of a shoe -- stepping on a nail, for example
1. Remove the Object if You Can
- If the object that caused the puncture is small and you can easily remove it, do so.
2. Stop the Bleeding
- Apply firm, direct pressure with sterile gauze or clean cloth until bleeding stops.
3. Clean and Protect the Wound
- Rinse the wound under clean water for several minutes. Then wash the area with mild soap and water and rinse again.
- Apply an antibiotic cream.
- Use a sterile bandage to protect the puncture wound from dirt or further injury.
4. Treat Pain
- For pain, give ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- See a healthcare provider for any signs of infection: redness, increasing pain, swelling, or pus at the site.
- Ask the health care provider if a tetanus shot is needed.
- Some wounds may need antibiotics. Ask the health care provider.
David M. Walker, MD on November 01, 2011
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