Puncture Wound  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • The skin is punctured by a pointed narrow object

If not, see these topics
View images
X-Ray - BB in Left Upper Arm
X-Ray - BB in Left Upper Arm

Puncture Wound - BB Gun
Puncture Wound - BB Gun

First Aid - Removing a Splinter
First Aid - Removing a Splinter

Puncture Wound - With a Foreign Body
Puncture Wound - With a Foreign Body

When to Call Your Doctor

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
  • Puncture on the head, neck, chest or stomach that may go deep
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • You think your child has a serious injury
  • Bleeding won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • Puncture on the head, neck, chest, or stomach that is not deep
  • Puncture into a joint
  • Tip of the object broke off in the body
  • Feels like something is still in the wound
  • Won't stand (bear weight or walk) on punctured foot
  • Needle stick from used shot needle
  • Sharp object or setting was very dirty (such as a playground)
  • No past tetanus shots
  • Dirt in the wound is not gone after 15 minutes of scrubbing
  • Pain is SEVERE and not improved 2 hours after taking pain medicine
  • Wound looks infected (spreading redness, red streaks)
  • Fever occurs
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Last tetanus shot was over 5 years ago
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Minor puncture wound
Causes & Health Information

Causes

  • Commonly caused by a nail, sewing needle, pencil, toothpick.
  • Pencil lead is actually graphite (harmless), not poisonous lead. Even colored leads are not toxic.
CARE ADVICE FOR PUNCTURE WOUND

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Most puncture wounds do not need to be seen.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Cleansing:
    • Wash the wound with soap and warm water for 15 minutes.
    • For any dirt or debris, scrub the wound surface back and forth. Use a wash cloth to remove any dirt.
    • If the wound re-bleeds a little, that may help remove germs.
  3. Trimming:
    • Cut off any flaps of loose skin that seal the wound. These can interfere with drainage or removing debris.
    • Use a fine scissors. Clean them with rubbing alcohol first.
  4. Antibiotic Ointment:
    • Use an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin. No prescription is needed.
    • Then, cover with a Band-Aid to reduce the risk of infection.
    • Re-wash the wound and put on antibiotic ointment every 12 hours.
    • Do this for 2 days.
  5. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
  6. What to Expect:
    • Puncture wounds seal over in 1 to 2 hours.
    • Pain should go away within 2 days.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Dirt in the wound still there after 15 minutes of scrubbing
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Looks infected (redness, red streaks, pus, fever)
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/13/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.