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Puncture Wound


What is a puncture wound?

A puncture wound is a hole in the skin made by a sharp, pointed object.

Puncture Wound

What are the signs and symptoms of a puncture wound?

The area may be bruised or swollen. You may have bleeding, pain, or trouble moving the affected area.

How is a puncture wound diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and examine your injury. Tell him how and when you were injured. He will check to see how deep the wound is. He will look for signs and symptoms of infection. He will check how well you can move the injured area and ask if you have any numbness. Tell him if you have had a tetanus shot.

  • Blood tests may be done to check for infection.
  • X-rays may be done to look for broken bones or other injuries around your wound. They may also be used to check for foreign objects such as dirt or metal.
  • A CT or MRI scan may be used to take pictures of the bones and tissues in your wound area. Healthcare providers use these pictures to look for objects left in the wound or near the bones. You may be given dye to help the bones and tissues show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

How is a puncture wound treated?

Treatment will depend on how severe the wound is, its location, and whether other areas are affected. It may also depend on your health and the length of time you have had the wound. You may need any of the following:

  • Wound cleaning may be done with soap and water to wash away germs and decrease the risk for infection. Your healthcare provider may cut open a part of the affected area to be able to clean it better. The wound may be rinsed with sterile water. Germ-killing solutions may also be used. Objects, dirt, or dead tissue from the wound will be removed with debridement (surgical cleaning). Your healthcare provider may also drain the wound to clean out pus.
  • Antibiotics help fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • A Td vaccine is a booster shot used to help prevent diphtheria and tetanus. The Td booster may be given to adolescents and adults every 10 years or for certain wounds and injuries.
  • Surgery may be needed if your wound is deep and blood vessels, bones, or nerves need to be repaired. Your wound may be left open until it heals or may be closed right away with stitches.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Rest your injured area as much as possible. If the puncture wound is in your leg or foot, use crutches for 2 to 3 days as directed. This will help keep the weight off your injured leg or foot as it heals.
  • Elevate your injured area above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your injured area on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

When should I call 911?

  • You have trouble swallowing and your jaw and neck are stiff.
  • You have trouble talking, walking, or breathing.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have severe pain.
  • You have new drainage or a bad odor coming from the wound.
  • You have numbness or tingling in the area of your wound.
  • Your wound does not stop bleeding, even after you apply pressure.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have more swelling, redness, or pain.
  • You have problems moving the injured part or have tender lumps in your groin or armpits.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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