Puncture Wound

Cross section of skin showing puncture wound.

A puncture wound occurs when a pointed object pushes into the skin. It may go into the tissues below the skin, including fat and muscle. This type of wound is narrow and deep and can be hard to clean. Because of this, puncture wounds are at high risk for becoming infected.

X-rays may be done to check the wound for objects stuck under the skin. Your may also need a tetanus shot. This is given if you are not up-to-date on this vaccination and the object that caused the wound may lead to tetanus.

Home care

  • Your healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic. This is to help prevent infection. Follow all instructions for taking this medicine. Take the medicine every day until it is gone or you are told to stop. You should not have any left over.

  • The healthcare provider may prescribe medicines for pain. Follow instructions for taking them.

  • You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain, unless you were given a different pain medicine to use. 

  • Follow the healthcare provider’s instructions on how to care for the wound.

  • Keep the wound clean and dry. Don't get the wound wet until you are told it is OK to do so. If the area gets wet, gently pat it dry with a clean cloth. Replace the wet bandage with a dry one.

  • If a bandage was applied and it becomes wet or dirty, replace it. Otherwise, leave it in place for the first 24 hours.

  • Once you can get the wound wet, you may shower as usual but don't soak the wound in water (no tub baths or swimming)

  • Even with proper treatment, a puncture wound may become infected. Check the wound daily for signs of infection listed below.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. 

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Signs of infection, including:

    • Increasing redness or swelling around the wound

    • Increased warmth of the wound

    • Worsening pain

    • Red streaking lines away from the wound

    • Draining pus

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Wound changes colors

  • Numbness around the wound

  • Decreased movement around the injured area

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