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Puncture Wounds


Topic Overview

A puncture woundClick here to see an illustration. is a forceful injury caused by a sharp, pointed object that penetrates the skin. A puncture wound is usually narrower and deeper than a cut or scrape. Many people accidentally get puncture wounds with household or work items, yard tools, or when operating machinery. Most puncture wounds are minor, and home treatment is usually all that is needed.

Sharp objects, such as nails, tacks, ice picks, knives, teeth, and needles, can all cause puncture wounds. Puncture wounds increase your risk of infection because they are hard to clean and provide a warm, moist place for bacteria to grow. The bacteria Pseudomonas are a common cause of infections when a puncture wound occurs through the sole of an athletic shoe.

Some punctures are done for health reasons. For example, a puncture may be used by a doctor to draw blood or to give fluid or medicines directly into a vein (intravenous, or IV).

Health professionals have an increased risk of needle-stick injuries. A puncture from a used needle increases the risk of infection or for transmitting a blood-borne disease, such as hepatitis or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Home treatment may be all that is needed for puncture wounds from clean needles.

When you have a puncture wound:

Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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