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Puncture Wound

Definition

  • The skin is punctured by a narrow, pointed object

Causes

  • Commonly caused by a nail, sewing needle, pencil, toothpick
  • Pencil lead is actually graphite (harmless), not poisonous lead. Even colored leads are not toxic.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 6/1/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

When To Call

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If

  • Puncture on the head, neck, chest or abdomen that may go deep

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • You think your child has a serious injury
  • Bleeding that won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • Puncture on the head, neck, chest, abdomen that isn't deep
  • Puncture overlying a joint
  • Tip of the object is broken off and missing
  • Feels like something still in the wound
  • Won't stand (bear weight or walk) on punctured foot
  • Needle stick from used or discarded injection needle
  • Sharp object or setting was very dirty (e.g., a barnyard)
  • No previous tetanus shots
  • Dirt (debris) or pencil lead pigment is not gone after 15 minutes of scrubbing
  • Severe pain
  • Wound looks infected (redness, red streaks, swollen, tenderness)
  • Fever occurs
  • If you think your child needs to be seen urgently

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Last tetanus shot over 5 years ago

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home If

  • Minor puncture wound and you don't think your child needs to be seen

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 6/1/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Care Advice

  1. Cleansing:
    • Wash the wound with soap and warm water for 15 minutes.
    • For any dirt or debris, scrub the wound surface back and forth with a wash cloth to remove it.
    • If the wound re-bleeds a little, that may help remove germs.
  2. Trimming: Cut off any flaps of loose skin that seal the wound and interfere with drainage or removing debris. Use a fine scissors, after cleaning them with rubbing alcohol.
  3. Antibiotic Ointment: Apply an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin (no prescription needed). Then, cover with a Band-Aid to reduce the risk of infection. Re-wash the area and re-apply an antibiotic ointment every 12 hours for 2 days.
  4. Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for any pain.
  5. Expected Course: Puncture wounds seal over in 1 to 2 hours. Pain should resolve within 2 days.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Dirt in the wound persists after 15 minutes of scrubbing
    • Pain becomes severe
    • It begins to look infected (redness, red streaks, tenderness, pus, fever)
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms. 

To find a pediatrician, click here.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here 

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 6/1/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Photos

First Aid - Removing a Fishhook

Source: Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions, LLC. Used by Permission.

 

First Aid - Removing a Splinter

You can remove splinters, larger slivers, and thorns with a needle and tweezers. Check the tweezers beforehand to be certain the ends (pickups) meet exactly. (If they do not, bend them.) Sterilize the tools with rubbing alcohol or a flame.

Clean the skin surrounding the sliver briefly with rubbing alcohol before trying to remove it. Be careful not to push the splinter in deeper. If you don't have rubbing alcohol, use soap and water, but don't soak the area if FB is wood (Reason: can cause swelling of the splinter).

Remove the splinter:

  • Step 1: Use the needle to completely expose the large end of the sliver. Use good lighting. A magnifying glass may help.
  • Step 2: Then grasp the end firmly with the tweezers and pull it out at the same angle that it went in. Getting a good grip the first time is especially important with slivers that go in perpendicular to the skin or those trapped under the fingernail.

Source: LMS Inc.
Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions, LLC. Used by Permission.

 

Puncture Wound - BB Gun

This photo shows a puncture wound from a BB gun in left upper arm. Note the small hole in the arm where the BB struck and entered the skin.

Source: LMS Inc.
Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions, LLC. Used by Permission.

 

Puncture Wound - With a Foreign Body

There is a small metal splinter (foreign body) embedded in the palm of the hand.

This patient went to the emergency department and had the splinter removed.

Source: LMS Inc.
Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions, LLC. Used by Permission.

 

X-Ray - BB in Left Upper Arm

This X-Ray shows BB in the left upper arm.

Source: LMS Inc.
Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions, LLC. Used by Permission.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 8/1/2010
Last Revised: 9/18/2010
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2011 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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