Puncture Wounds

Puncture wounds may seem like minor injuries, but they can lead to serious complications if not treated properly. Often, people do not seek prompt medical attention after a puncture wound which can cause foreign objects to remain embedded in the skin. Quick treatment can prevent these injuries from worsening and prevent the development of infections or other problems. In this article, we will discuss what a puncture wound is, the severity of a wound, and how to treat it to prevent complications.

What is a puncture wound?

A puncture wound is not the same as a cut. It is a small entry hole created by a pointed object such as a nail or needle. A cut, on the other hand, results in a tear in the skin. Since the entry wound’s small size may keep it from bleeding much, you may not know it is any more than a minor injury. Puncture wounds and cuts differ in the way they require treatment because a small hole can hide a more significant injury.

A puncture wound often occurs in the foot, especially during barefoot walking. However, puncture wounds can occur anywhere on your body, including your hands or fingers.

Severity of wounds

There are different ways of determining the severity of a puncture wound. Depth of the injury tends to be one way to evaluate it. The deeper the puncture, the more likely it is that complications, such as infections or other issues, could develop. In most cases, patients cannot determine how deep the injury is. Therefore, please seek immediate medical attention if possible.

When a wound is penetrated by an object, there is a risk that a foreign body remains embedded under the skin. Such items could be nails, glass or seashells, with any foreign body increasing your chance of developing other potential problems, either in the near future or later.

The size and idea of the piercing are also factors in evaluating the severity of a wound. Larger and longer objects can penetrate deeper into the tissues and cause more damage. The more dirt and debris that an object drags into the wound, the dirtier the object, such as a rusty nail, which increases the risk of infection. Shoelaces, socks, and other particles can also get trapped within the wound, making it more difficult to clean.


A puncture wound must be properly cleaned and monitored throughout the healing process to avoid complications. Even if you have gone to the emergency room for immediate treatment of your puncture wound, see a foot and ankle surgeon for a thorough cleaning and careful follow-up. The sooner you seek this care, the greater the chance of a positive outcome.

The surgeon will ensure that the wound is appropriately cleaned, and the foreign body has been removed. He or she may numb the area, thoroughly clean both the interior and exterior of the wound, and monitor your progress. In some cases, x-rays may be ordered to determine whether anything is left in the wound or if bone damage has already occurred. If necessary, antibiotics can be prescribed to overcome an infection.

Avoiding complications

Follow the surgeon’s instructions for caring for the wound to prevent further complications. Infection is a common complication of puncture wounds that can lead to serious consequences. Sometimes a minor skin infection develops into joint or bone infection, so it is important to be aware of signs. A mild skin infection may appear two to five days after injury around the wound, which includes pain, redness, and potentially discharge, swelling, and warmth. A fever may also develop. If no progress is seen after five to ten days or if the signs reappear after ten to fourteen days, a serious infection in the joint or bone may have already developed.

Inadequate treatment of a puncture wound can also result in painful scarring in the wound area or a hard cyst in the foreign body’s location. Even though the complications of puncture wounds can be quite severe, early and proper treatment can play a crucial role in preventing them.

If you have a puncture wound that you suspect is serious, please do not hesitate to seek medical attention right away. If you are in the Gardner MA area, please come visit us at New England Foot & Ankle Specialists, where Dr. Gilbert Huang, DPM, can provide a thorough examination and proper treatment.

Remember to seek proper medical help and follow your doctor’s instructions to avoid complications of puncture wounds. Proper wound management and care can go a long way toward preventing long-term consequences.