Puncture wounds are different than cuts on the foot. Whereas a cut is a slice in the skin of the foot, a puncture wound is a hole that can be as deep as the object that punctured the foot. Unfortunately, although these types of wounds are among the most common types of foot injuries experienced, they are among the least likely to be treated properly as most people choose to forego treatment for something they deem insignificant.
The problem with this is that a puncture wound can result in infections or other complications, like foreign material being left behind in the foot after removal of the object. Because of this, it is very important to have the foot examined by a foot and ankle surgeon within 24 hours of the puncture occurring.
Common Causes for Foot Puncture Wounds
Puncture wounds in the feet are most common during the spring and summer months when people are more likely to wear thin footwear like sandals or to go barefoot. Objects that are commonly responsible for puncturing the foot include:
- Sewing needles
- Medical needles (such as those for administering insulin)
- Wood splinters
Why are Puncture Wounds in the Feet Dangerous?
When a foreign object pierces the skin of the foot, there is a very good chance that dirt and debris such as skin, pieces of sock or shoe, and pieces of the object itself can be forced into the foot. This results in puncture wounds being classified as “dirty wounds.” If these unsanitary particles remain in the foot, they can cause additional problems, with some being serious, in the future.
How is a Puncture Wound Treated?
Proper treatment of a puncture wound in the foot begins with a thorough cleaning of the wound. Then, as the wound is healing, additional examinations should be performed by a foot and ankle surgeon to monitor the healing progress and to look for any signs of infection or other complications. Wound cleaning and treatment by a foot and ankle surgeon is recommended for all puncture wounds in the feet, even if treatment was already administered in an emergency room.
What to Do When You Suffer a Puncture Wound in the Foot
- Seek medical treatment immediately
- Get a tetanus shot as soon as possible (should have one every five years)
- See a foot and ankle surgeon within 24 hours of the injury
- Avoid putting any weight on the injured foot
- Follow your doctor’s directions for caring for your foot
- Keep the dressing clean and dry
- Monitor your temperature regularly
- Take your antibiotics as directed if prescribed and finish the complete course of treatment
- Call your doctor immediately if you experience a fever or notice pain, swelling, or redness at the site of the injury