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Puncture Wound (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

When to call the doctor

  • If the wound will not stop bleeding after 5 minutes of direct pressure or is spurting blood, call a doctor or go to an Emergency Department.
  • If the wound was caused by a nail, pen, or pencil, call a doctor to see if the person needs immediate care or close follow-up.
  • If the person is not sure when they had their last tetanus shot, check with the doctor's office. Individuals will need a tetanus shot if it has been more than 10 years since their last shot or if their last tetanus shot was more than 5 years ago, and the wound has been contaminated with dirt. This is done since immunity to tetanus may wane over time.
  • If the person knows or suspects part of the object remains in the wound, contact a doctor. The individual may need urgent care to detect and remove the object.

When to go to the hospital

Seek emergency medical attention in any of the following situations:

  • If the wound is in the head, chest, or abdomen, unless it is very small, but it is better to be sure. If there is any concern, see a doctor.
  • If there is loss of feeling, numbness, or inability to move an arm or leg below the wound
  • If the wound is more than 24 hours old and the person develops signs of infection, such as redness at the area of the wound, swelling, pus drainage, fever over 100 F (37.3 C), or red streaks coming away from the wound
  • If the wound does not stop bleeding after pressure is applied for 5 minutes
  • If the wound has part of an object remaining in it, such as a pencil tip, nail, or piece of glass
  • If a lot of dirt remains in the wound
  • If the wound is gaping or there is white tissue (fatty tissue) or muscle visible
  • If the person has a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, or takes steroids
  • If the wound is close to or in an eye
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/6/2016
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