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Puncture Wounds

What is a puncture wound?

A puncture wound is a deep wound made by a sharp object such as a nail or a jagged piece of metal or wood. Puncture wounds may be small in diameter and not seem serious; however, they do require treatment by a physician. Puncture wounds may become infected easily because dirt and germs are carried deep into the tissues. Sometimes, infection may be delayed, so it is very important to have your child see a physician for any puncture wound.

First-aid for puncture wounds

  • Calm your child and let him or her know you can help.

  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding. If the bleeding is profuse, hold pressure for five to 10 minutes without stopping to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old one. Do not lift the original cloth.

  • Once bleeding has stopped, wash your hands and then wash the area well with soap and water, but do not scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area and let the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes.

  • Cover the area with an adhesive bandage or gauze.

  • Call your child's physician, or if bleeding is severe, call 911 or take your child to the emergency room for further care.

Treatment for puncture wounds

Once a physician has seen your child, you will be given specific instructions for how to care for your child's wound. Treatment at home will be based on the location and size of the wound, type of treatment needed, and any special needs noted by the physician. Antibiotics may be given to help prevent infection in the wound.

Some general guidelines for caring for a puncture wound include the following:

  • Keep the area clean and dry.

  • Carefully follow the physician's instructions for care of the wound.

  • Make sure your child avoids any activity that may cause him or her to reinjure or open the wound.

  • Observe the wound for signs of infection such as increased warmth, swelling, redness, drainage, or pain.

  • Return for follow-up care, as advised by your child's physician.

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