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Puncture Wounds | Overview

What is a puncture wound?

It is common for children to have puncture wounds. A puncture wound is a deep wound made by a sharp object such as a nail or a jagged piece of metal or wood. Puncture wounds may be small in and not seem serious; however, they do require treatment by a doctor. Puncture wounds may become infected easily because dirt and germs are carried deep into the tissues, so it's important to have your child see a physician for any puncture wound.

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches puncture wounds

The Injury Prevention Program at Children's is committed to decreasing the incidence of pediatric injuries, including puncture wounds, through community-based education efforts, distributing safety materials and conducting research into what works best.

Puncture Wounds | Symptoms & Causes

In depth text

Puncture Wounds | Treatments

First-aid for puncture wounds

  • Calm and comfort your child by letting him or her know that you can help.
  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding. If the bleeding is profuse, hold pressure for five to 10 minutes without stopping to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old one.
  • Once bleeding has stopped, wash your hands and then wash the area well with soap and water, but don't scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area and let the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes.
  • Cover the area with an adhesive bandage or gauze.
  • Call your child's physician, or if bleeding is severe, call 911 or take your child to the emergency room for further care.

Treatment for puncture wounds

Once a physician has seen your child, you will be given specific instructions for how to care for your child's wound. Treatment at home will be based on the location and size of the wound, type of treatment needed, and any special needs noted by the physician. Antibiotics may be given to help prevent infection in the wound.

Some general guidelines for caring for a puncture wound

  • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • Carefully follow the physician's instructions for care of the wound.
  • Make sure your child avoids any activity that may cause him/her to re-injure or open the wound.
  • Observe the wound for signs of infection such as increased warmth, swelling, redness, drainage, or pain.
  • Return for follow-up care, as advised by your child's physician.

Puncture Wounds | Programs & Services