Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What should I do if I have a puncture wound?"
I stepped on a small nail that was sticking out of some carpet in my basement and got a tiny puncture wound. It hurts a bit but nothing major. Do I have to do anything about it though? Could it get infected just because it is a puncture wound?
Puncture wounds such as yours should always be treated under the guidance of a doctor. This is because you want to make sure that the wound is adequately examined for infection, and that no vital structure such as a tendon is damaged by the nail. In addition, you may need a tetanus shot. Tetanus is caused by a bacteria that lives on nails and other dirty objects. When forcefully introduced into the skin, the tetanus bacteria can grow and cause significant damage to your nervous system. We get tetanus shots to prevent this. If it has been longer than 5 years since your last one, then you will need to have another. In addition other types of infection can develop in the wound. These may need to be treated with topical or oral antibiotics. In the worse case scenarios, the wound will need cleaned out if there is debris or trapped infected material. The best doctor for you to see about this is your primary care physician. He or she can take a close look at your wound and determine what type of wound care is pertinent in your situation. In addition, you can get your tetanus shot if needed. Good luck!
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