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Puncture Wounds—the “Hole” Story

You’re strolling along barefoot on the beach without a care in the world, when suddenly you step on something sharp. Whether it’s a piece of glass, a broken shell, or a pointy stick, if it does not tear the skin, but causes a hole in it instead, it’s a type of injury called puncture wounds. This is completely different from a cut, and must be treated differently as well, since objects can become embedded inside the wound and pose the possibility of serious infection and other complications.

When Foreign Bodies Come Knocking

Puncture wounds are an open door to all kinds of foreign bodies. Not only can fragments of the piercing object on which you stepped get embedded inside, but pieces of your own skin, dirt, and debris can enter the hole as well. If you were wearing socks and shoes, even remnants from these can enter the wound. Typical culprits of punctures include tacks or nails, needles, glass, and shells. These are all unsterile items that can penetrate the skin and cause major problems.

Judging Severity

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the severity of the wound. The deeper the puncture, the more likely complications can occur. However, it is not always easy to tell how far the wound extends. If the penetrating object was large or long, chances are good that damage is deep. If the object was rusty or the incident occurred in a dirty area, chances of infection are greater. In either case, seeking help at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists is recommended.

Proper Treatment for Puncture Wounds

When you step on something that punctures your foot, try to remove the object if it is still in the wound, taking care not to push it in further. If there is an excessive amount of bleeding, apply pressure to stop it. Clean the area with cool water and mild soap. Unlike with cuts, you should not use rubbing alcohol, iodine, or hydrogen peroxide as these harm the tissues and can slow healing. Bandage the wound to protect it from dirt and irritation. Check and see when you had your last tetanus shot—if it has been longer than 10 years, then you will need to get one.

It is best to seek professional help within 24 hours in order to determine if all foreign bodies are removed, and continue to care for the wound and keep it clean on a regular basis until it heals. Antibiotics may be prescribed and you will be asked to keep your weight off of your foot. Watch closely for signs of infection, including redness, swelling, warmth, drainage, pain, or fever.

If an infection sets in, prompt treatment is crucial. Even the most minor of skin infections can spread to the bone and joint. Also, inadequate treatment can result in painful scarring or even a hardened cyst if a foreign body remains in the wound.

Puncture wounds should be taken seriously. If you have one, seek treatment right away at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists in Austin, TX. Call (512) 328-8900 to contact Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS and Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS. We can assess your wound and provide proper treatment to avoid complications. You’ll be strolling along again without a care in the world in no time!|

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