A doctor treating a picture wound.

From entry to exit: what to do when you have a puncture wound.

Puncture wounds are not your typical cuts or scrapes. They occur when a pointed object pierces the skin, creating a small but deep hole. These injuries can seem minor at first glance, but they have the potential to become serious if not properly treated.

In this article, we’ll explore the essentials of puncture wounds—from understanding what they are, recognizing when they're serious, to effectively treating them.

What is a puncture wound?

A puncture wound is an injury caused by an object piercing the skin and creating a deep hole. Common culprits include nails, needles, and animal teeth.

Unlike cuts, puncture wounds do not usually bleed much, but they are more prone to infection and other complications because the object can carry bacteria deep into the body.

Recognizing a puncture wound early and understanding its potential risks are key steps toward proper care.


How do you know if a puncture wound is serious?

Determining the seriousness of a puncture wound involves assessing various factors, including the depth of the wound, the object that caused it and the location on the body.

Here are some signs that a puncture wound is severe and requires medical attention:

  • Infection signs: Redness, swelling, warmth or pus around the wound site are classic signs of infection.
  • Tetanus risk: Wounds caused by rusty or dirty objects increase the risk of tetanus, a serious bacterial infection.
  • Location and depth: Wounds on certain parts of the body, like the foot, or particularly deep wounds, pose a higher risk of complications.
  • Foreign material: If parts of the object remain in the wound, it’s essential to seek medical care to remove them and prevent infection.


How do you treat a puncture wound?

Treatment for a puncture wound focuses on cleaning the injury, preventing infection and monitoring for complications.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do:

  1. Clean the wound: Rinse the wound under running water to remove any debris. Use soap around the wound area but not directly in it to avoid irritation.
  2. Disinfect: Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection.
  3. Cover: Cover the wound with a sterile bandage, changing it daily or whenever it becomes wet or dirty.
  4. Seek medical attention: If the wound is deep, caused by a dirty or rusty object, or shows signs of infection, it’s important to visit a healthcare provider at CityMD. A tetanus shot may be necessary for wounds at risk of tetanus.
  5. Antibiotics. Some puncture wounds will require antibiotics. 


Treating puncture wounds at CityMD.

At CityMD, we’re equipped to handle the complexities of puncture wounds. Our urgent care services include wound assessment, cleaning and tetanus vaccinations. We can also provide antibiotics to prevent or treat infections and offer guidance on home care and signs of complications.

If you’re concerned about a puncture wound, don’t wait for complications to develop. Our team is here to provide the care you need right when you need it.

Puncture wounds, while often looking insignificant, can lead to serious health issues if not treated correctly. You can ensure a safe and swift recovery by understanding puncture wounds, recognizing the signs of a serious wound, and knowing how to treat them properly. Remember, when in doubt, professional medical evaluation is always the best course of action.

Health and Wellness

We’re ready to care for you.

Visit any CityMD urgent care location in your community today for an evaluation with one of our expert providers.