Puncture Wounds on Feet

Most people have experienced a deep cut or gash at one point or another. It’s no fun, with a lot of pain and bleeding being normal, and stitches sometimes required to close the wound.

Puncture wounds are different. They rarely bleed much, and can close up quite quickly on their own. While this may tempt you into thinking the injury isn’t very serious, the unfortunate truth is that puncture wounds can hide significant trauma and need quick, appropriate treatment to avoid infection.

Why Are Puncture Wounds on Feet So Dangerous?

foot wound carePuncture wounds are especially dangerous for a few reasons. First, there’s no such thing as a “clean” puncture wound, since a non-sterile object fully penetrates the skin and even underlying tissues. Second, because the wound is narrow but deep, it may not be immediately apparent how extensive the tissue damage really is. Third, there is a high degree of probability that pieces of the piercing object (nail, glass, toothpick, etc.) or other foreign objects, may become lodged or embedded under the skin – especially if the pierce has gone through a sneaker or flip-flop in addition to your foot.

These complicating factors mean that puncture wounds carry a very high infection risk—potentially even a bone infection if the puncture is deep enough. Furthermore, embedded objects can cause pain and complications later, even after the wound has healed. That’s why it’s important to conduct thorough first aid on any puncture wound, then follow up with a doctor within the next 24 hours. Doing so significantly improves your chances of complication-free healing.

First Aid for a Puncture Wound

Before you attempt any first aid, wash your hands. Once that’s done, stop the bleeding by applying gentle pressure with a clean cloth. Most puncture wounds don’t bleed much due to the small size of the hole, so it shouldn’t take too long.

Next, you want to clean the wound thoroughly. Rinse it with water, then examine for any foreign particles. If you do see anything, use a sterile tweezers (clean it with alcohol) to remove the rest—see us immediately if you can’t get it all yourself.

Once particles are removed, clean the entire area with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover with a clean bandage. Keep the dressing from getting wet or dirty, and avoid bearing weight on the injury as much as possible.

Seeking Professional Care

See Dr. Danciger as soon as possible after sustaining a puncture wound—within 24 hours if possible. This is even more critical if you suffer from a condition that suppresses circulation or your immune system. We’ll ensure that the wound has been fully cleaned, with any piercing objects or foreign obstacles completely removed (confirmed through X-ray if necessary). We can also provide stronger antibiotics or other medications if you need them.

Depending on the severity of the original injury, we may further recommend follow-up appointments to monitor the healing progress. In any case, however, you’ll need to be watching carefully at home for any signs of infection. If you notice significant pain, soreness, swelling, warmth, or drainage near the injury site, or experience feverish symptoms, an infection is likely. If these symptoms persist or reoccur 10-14 days after the original injury, the infection may have reached the joint or bone.

Don’t be fooled by an innocent-looking puncture wound—thought there may not be much blood or even pain, you don’t want to risk a painful, damaging infection. If something has pierced your foot, perform the proper first aid and call Harvey Danciger, DPM right away for a full evaluation and check-up. You can reach our office in Palm Desert, CA through this website, or by dialing 760-568-0108.
Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle