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First Aid for Puncture Wounds

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The process of wound healing. Illustration showing skin after injury, appears blood, then blood clot, then scab.


Extensive Puncture Wounds should be evaluated by a trained medical professional, as soon as possible! DO NOT wait! Failure to obtain evaluation as soon as possible may result in serious injury or death. Call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately, if you have a serious Puncture Wound.

What is Puncture Wounds?

  • A Puncture Wound is a break in the skin, caused on contact with a sharp and pointed object. Depending on the severity and location of the injury, it may be mild or serious, requiring immediate medical attention
  • Deep wounds may affect the soft tissue beneath the skin and even the bone. In such cases, there may be profuse bleeding from the site

What are the Causes of Puncture Wounds?

The causes of Puncture Wounds include:

  • Nails
  • Needles
  • Animal or human bites
  • Wooden splinters, glass, knives, scissors

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Puncture Wounds?

The signs and symptoms of Puncture Wounds include:

  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • If the wound gets infected, it may cause redness, increasing pain, fever, and drainage (pus)

How is First Aid administered for Puncture Wounds?

First Aid tips for Puncture Wounds include:

  • Check the wound to make sure it is clean (no foreign body left in the wound)
  • If there is any dirt or debris in the wound, try to remove them with sterilized tweezers, if possible. If you are unable to remove them completely, seek medical help
  • Let the wound bleed first, before applying gentle pressure with a clean cloth or gauze to stop bleeding. If bleeding remains uncontrolled, then do seek medical help
  • Cleanse the wound thoroughly with water, after washing your hand
  • Apply an antibiotic cream, like Neosporin
  • Cover the wound with bandage, to avoid infection
  • Make sure to change dressing regularly
  • Look for any signs of infections such as redness, swelling, discharge, or warmth (the area of injury feels warm to ones touch)
  • If you have not had a tetanus shot in the last 5 years, get a tetanus booster prophylaxis

Seek medical help if the:

  • Wound is due to a human or animal bite
  • Bleeding continues
  • If there are any signs of infection
  • If pain continues or worsens

Who should administer First Aid for Puncture Wounds?

The person himself/herself or someone nearby, may administer First Aid.

What is the Prognosis of Puncture Wounds?

The prognosis is dependent upon the extent of the Puncture Wound and its cause. It is crucial to take steps to prevent any wound infection.

How can Puncture Wounds be Prevented?

  • Be careful when working with sharp (or pointed) objects
  • Do not let children play unsupervised

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Clean and sterilize the wound
  • Stop the bleeding
  • Monitor for signs of infection
  • Seek appropriate medical attention, as mentioned above
  • Update tetanus prophylaxis (if you have not had a tetanus shot for over 5 years)

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: May 27, 2013
Last updated: March 5, 2018