Puncture Wounds

A puncture wound is a small but deep hole caused by such things as fangs, pins, sticks, staples, nails, or any object capable of penetrating the skin deeply. Puncture wounds don't usually bleed a lot, but can cause internal injury, and it's difficult to estimate how deep the wound may be.

First Aid for Puncture Wounds

Always assume that a puncture wound is dirty. To treat minor wounds:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water and wear gloves.

  • Clean the wound under a stream of running water, using soap followed by povidone-iodine.

  • Bandage loosely and monitor the wound daily for signs of infection suh as increased swelling, redness, or discharge.

Never seal the puncture wound and do not use antibiotic ointments because sealing the wound may actually increase the chance of infection. Don't attempt to clean a major puncture wound as this may cause more serious bleeding. Never try to remove an imbedded object from a puncture wound. Depending on where the wound is located, this can cause further damage, bleeding, and even immediate death. Never probe or remove debris from a wound, attempt to push body parts back in, or breathe on a wound or dressing because doing so may cause serious infection later.

Call 911 immediately for any serious puncture wound. If the wound is bleeding heavily, apply direct pressure until help arrives.


When should I change a bandage?

There are no hard and fast rules for dressing changes but typically you should change bandages daily, or whenever they get dirty or wet from activity or from blood or other secretions from the wound.

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