Definition, Causes and Treatment of Puncture Wounds


A puncture wound is an injury that occurs when an object pierces or penetrates the skin and makes a hole. Puncture wounds can either be shallow or very deep. A small puncture wound will generally close easily on its own. However, puncture wounds can be very dangerous as the object that caused the injury may have pushed bacteria or spores of tetanus into the skin and tissue.


Nearly any long sharp object can cause a puncture wound. Some of the more common objects that cause this type of wound are:

  • Nails
  • Broken glass
  • Needles and pins
  • Dog teeth
  • Cat or other animal teeth
  • Knives
  • Splinters

Some of these objects, such as nails and splinters, cause many injuries on construction sites. Animal bites are a common cause of puncture wounds and they carry with them a higher than usual risk of infection. Some puncture wounds may not be an accident. Knives and bullets both cause puncture wounds.


  • Check to see that nothing is left in the wound
  • Check the object to ensure that it is intact and that there are no fragments in the wound
  • Allow the wound to bleed freely as this will help flush out the wound
  • If the bleeding does not stop or if it is spurting seek emergency care
  • Clean the wound. Wash your hands before treating the injury. Clean around and, if possible, inside the wound. If there are any fragments in the wound contact your doctor for assistance.
  • Protect the wound. Use an antibiotic ointment to protect against infection.

If you have diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, have not had a tetanus shot in five years, a wound with fragments, a deep wound, a wound that will not stop bleeding or a wound to the foot please see your physician. Also, if you suspect infection see your doctor right away.


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