Treating puncture wounds

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A puncture wound — for example, from stepping on a nail — usually doesn’t result in excessive bleeding. The wound may seem to close almost instantly, but it may still be dangerous because of the risk of infection. If the puncture is deep, contaminated, or the result of an animal or human bite, seek medical attention right away. Remember these tips:
• Apply gentle pressure if there’s bleeding
Press down on the wound using a clean soft cloth. If the wound was deep enough to draw blood, especially if it spurts or continues to flow after several minutes of pressure — seek medical attention immediately.


• Clean the wound
Rinse the wound under running water to help remove debris and bacteria. Don’t use soap — it can irritate the wound. If dirt or debris remains in the wound after washing, use tweez- ers cleaned with alcohol to remove the particles. If you can’t remove all the debris, see your doctor. To clean the area around the wound, use soap and a washcloth.
• Apply an antibiotic
After cleaning the wound, apply a thin layer of an antibiotic
cream or ointment such as Neosporin or Polysporin to help keep the surface moist. These products discourage infection. If a rash appears, stop using the product.

• Cover the wound
Bandages can help keep the wound clean and keep harmful bacteria out. Change the dressing at least daily or whenever it becomes wet or dirty. If you’re allergic to adhesive, use adhesive-free dressings or sterile gauze and hypoallergenic paper tape.
• Watch for signs of infection
See your doctor if the wound doesn’t heal or if you notice redness, drainage, warmth or swelling.
• Keep tetanus booster shots up to date
Adults generally need tetanus boosters every 10 years. If you have a deep or dirty cut or wound, and you haven’t had a tetanus shot within five years, your doctor may recommend a booster.

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