Can antibiotics treat puncture wounds?
A puncture wound is caused by an object piercing the skin, creating a small hole. Some punctures can be very deep, depending on the source and cause.
Puncture wounds do not usually bleed much, but treatment is necessary to prevent infection. A puncture wound can cause infection because it forces bacteria and debris deep into the tissue, and the wound closes quickly forming an ideal place for bacteria to grow.
For example, if a nail penetrates deep into the foot, it can hit a bone and introduce bacteria into the bone. This risk is especially great if an object has gone through a pair of sneakers or tennis shoes. The foam in sneakers can harbor bacteria that can lead to serious infection in the tissues. Additional common causes of puncture wounds can include animal or human bites, or splinters from wood or other plant material, which carry a high risk of infection and should be treated by a physician.
First aid for puncture wounds includes:
- Clean the area thoroughly with soap and water.
- If the area is swollen, ice can be applied and the area punctured should be elevated.
- Apply antibiotic ointments (Bacitracin, Polysporin, Neosporin) to prevent infection.
- Cover the wound with a bandage to keep out harmful bacteria and dirt.
- Change the bandage 3 times a day and monitor for signs of infection (the same signs as in the cuts section).
- Change the bandage if it becomes wet or dirty.
Most puncture wounds do not become infected, but if redness, swelling or bleeding persists, see your doctor. People with suppressed immune systems or any particularly deep puncture wounds should also be seen by a doctor. If it is difficult to remove the puncturing object, it may have penetrated the bone and requires medical care.
Puncture wounds to the feet are a particular concern. Wear shoes to minimize the risk of a puncture wound from a nail or glass, especially if the affected person has diabetes or loss of sensation in the feet for any reason.