Minor puncture wounds can be treated effectively at home. If you do not have an increased risk of infection, you do not have other injuries, and you do not need a tetanus shot or treatment by a doctor, you can treat a puncture wound at home. Home treatment can prevent infection and promote healing.
The American Red Cross recommends that everyone use Reference blood and body fluid precautions with first aid treatment.
- Make sure the object causing the wound is not still in the wound. Check to see if the object is intact and a piece has not broken off in the wound.
- Try to remove the object that caused the wound if it is small and you can see it. If you have a Reference splinter, try using cellophane tape before using clean tweezers or a needle. Simply put the tape over the splinter, then pull the tape off. The splinter usually sticks to the tape and is removed painlessly and easily. Be careful, and do not push the object farther into the wound. Do not wet the splinter.
Stop the bleeding
- Allow the wound to bleed freely for up to 5 minutes to clean itself out, unless there has been a lot of blood loss or blood is squirting out of the wound.
- Reference Stop the bleeding Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window with direct pressure to the wound.
After you have stopped the bleeding, Reference check your symptoms to determine if and when you need to see your doctor.
Clean the wound
Reference Clean the wound as soon as possible to reduce the chance of infection, scarring, and tattooing of the skin from dirt left in the wound. (If dirt or other debris is not removed from a puncture wound, the new skin will heal over it. The dirt can then be seen through the skin and may look like a tattoo.)
- Wash the wound for 5 minutes with large amounts of cool water and soap (mild dishwashing soap, such as Ivory, works well). Some nonprescription products are available for wound cleaning that numb the area so cleaning doesn't hurt as much. Be sure to read the product label for correct use.
- Do not use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or Mercurochrome, which can harm the tissue and slow healing.
Consider applying a bandage
Most puncture wounds heal well and don't need a bandage. You may need to protect the puncture wound from dirt and irritation. Be sure to clean the wound thoroughly before Reference bandaging it to reduce the risk of infection occurring under the bandage.
Puncture wounds are less likely than cuts to need Reference stitches, staples or skin adhesives.
- Determine whether you need a Reference tetanus shot.
- You may have a localized reaction to a tetanus shot. Symptoms include warmth, swelling, and redness at the injection site. A fever of up to 100°F (37.8°C) may occur. Home treatment can help reduce the discomfort.
An Reference ice or cold pack may help reduce swelling and bruising. Never apply ice directly to a wound or the skin. This could cause tissue damage.
Elevate the injured area on pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to keep the area at or above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
|Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
|Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:|
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Reference Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
- Reference Signs of infection Opens New Window
- Signs of loss of function
- Signs of decreased blood flow
- Pain gets worse.
- Symptoms become more severe or more frequent.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference June 6, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Reference H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine