Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do puncture wounds get infected as easily as a regular cut?"
I was sort of stabbed with a push pin at work when I grabbed something off a desk. It went all the way in and hurt real bad. Now I'm worried about the little hole it made. Will it get infected? Is it the same as a cut in this way?
Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and is the first line of defense against infection. Obviously a cut or puncture wound violate this defense in some way, putting the host at risk for infection. There are a number of factors that are involved in whether the person actually gets an infection however. First of all, there are millions of bacteria living on your (and everyone else) skin that don;t typically cause infection called normal flora. When the skin is violated, then some of these bacteria make it into deeper tissues and if the environment is adequate for the particular bacteria to grow, it might form an infection. There are some differences in receiving a cut, and a puncture wound. First of all the obvious...a cut opens the skin and typically stays open. This means that the wound can heal "from the bottom up" which prevents any trapping of bacteria inside without a point of egress. If a particular class of bacteria called anaerobes (meaning they grow best when there's no oxygen, or low oxygen levels present) gets inserted deep into a tissue through a puncture wound, the path from the foreign body may heal sealing off any drainage point for a potential build-up of infection (this is one way that an abscess forms). One particular worrisome bacteria that is an anaerobe can cause tetanus. For this reason it would make sense to be sure that your tetanus booster is up to date. With all of this being said, there has been a lot of research on the transmission of diseases through puncture wounds (of importance in the medical field due to needle sticks, etc) and the rates of infection from a small (relatively) clean solid bore needle should be very low. I would still recommend making an appointment to see your primary care physician to get a tetanus booster if you are not up to date. I hope that this is helpful, and I wish you all the best.
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