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Puncture Wound: Brief Version

What is a puncture wound?

A puncture wound is when a sharp object, like a nail, cuts or pierces your child's skin. Because it is deep, it can easily get infected. If your child gets a puncture in his eye, foot, or stomach, call your healthcare provider.

How can I take care of my child?

Wash the wound.

  • Soak it in warm water with soap for 15 minutes.
  • Wash it with a washcloth to get out any dirt. Don't worry if it bleeds a little. That helps get rid of germs.

Cut off any flaps of skin. They can get in the way of cleaning the wound.

  • Use fine scissors.
  • Clean the scissors first with alcohol.

Put on antibiotic ointment and a Band-Aid. This helps keep it from getting infected.

  • Soak the area again and put on antibiotic ointment every 12 hours.
  • Do this for 2 days.

Give pain medicine.

  • Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) for any pain.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • The puncture is in the face, neck, chest, or stomach.
  • You still see dirt in the wound after you soak it.
  • Part of the object breaks off in the wound.
  • The wound is very deep.
  • The sharp object (such as a nail) or place where the injury happened (for example, a barnyard) was very dirty.
  • The wound is very red, or has streaks and pus.

Call your doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child has not had a tetanus shot for 5 years.
  • The pain, redness, or swelling gets worse after 48 hours.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-08-13
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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