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Puncture Wounds

What can cause a puncture?

A variety of objects can cause or become embedded in a puncture wound. Common ones include nails, glass, needles, and toothpicks. All puncture wounds are considered dirty as they are caused by objects that are not sterile; making them prone to infection.

Did You Know?

Pieces of your own skin, sock and shoe can enter and be embedded into the wound during a puncture.

You are more likely to get a serious infection if you were wearing a rubber-soled shoe at the time of injury. Why? Because bacteria from the sole may be dragged into the wound.

    When to Seek Help from a Podiatrist

    • If there are any symptoms of infection (redness or swelling around the wound, worsening pain, numbness around the wound, change in colour, draining pus, etc)

    • If you have  is a fever of 100.4°F (38.ºC) or higher

    • If the wound continues bleeding after 5 minutes of applied pressure

    • If the object or part of the object remains embedded in the wound

    • If the wound was caused by a pencil or pen

    • If you have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes

    • If the you have not had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years

    Puncture Wounds vs Cuts

    A puncture wound occurs when a pointed object pierces into the skin and creates a small hole. Some punctures are just on the surface, while others may enter deep into the tissues below the skin of the foot, including fat and muscle. This type of wound is narrow, deep and can be difficult to clean.

    In contrast, a cut is an open wound that produces a long tear in the skin. Puncture wounds are treated differently from cuts because puncture wounds have a high risk of becoming infected.


    • Puncture wounds cause pain and mild bleeding. Most punctures are easily visible. However, smaller objects such as pieces of glass can cause puncture wounds that are less obvious.
    • If not treated properly, the wound can be infected and cause redness, swelling, pus or watery discharge.

    Basic Wound Care at Home

    • Stop the bleeding: Minor wounds usually stop bleeding quickly and without any treatment. If not, add pressure with a clean cloth or bandage. If the bleeding continues after several minutes of pressure, seek medical help.
    • Clean the wound: Wounds should be treated with clean hands or with sterile gloves to prevent bacteria from spreading into the wound. The wound should be cleaned and washed with water. A mild soap can be used if necessary. If dirt or debris remain in the wound, remove them with a pair of tweezers sterilized with alcohol.
    • Protect the wound: An antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin or Polysporin can be used. Apply a thin layer over the wound with a clean swab or gauze. The wound should always be clean before applying the ointment.


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