Puncture wound

A puncture wound is a forceful injury from a pointed, sharp object that pierces the skin. This wound is typically deeper and narrow than a scrape or cut. Many individuals accidentally end up with a puncture wound during daily activities or in the workplace. Most cases are minor and home treatment is usually enough.

Sharp or pointed objects such as ice picks, nails, knives, tacks, needles and teeth can cause a puncture wound. These wounds increase the risk for infection since they are difficult to thoroughly clean and provide a moist, warm place for bacteria to thrive.

Home care for a puncture wound

For minor cases, they can be effectively treated at home. If the individual does not have a high risk for infection, there are no other injuries and a tetanus shot or treatment from a doctor is not needed, it can be managed at home. Remember that home treatment can prevent infection and promote healing of the wound.

Puncture wound

Control the bleeding by placing direct pressure on the wound.

Removal of the object

  • Ensure that the object responsible for the wound is no longer inside. Assess if the object is still intact and a piece has not broken off inside the wound.
  • Try to remove the object if it is small and you can clearly see it. If a splinter is present, utilize a cellophane tape. All you have to do is place the tape on top of the splinter and jerk the tape off. This splinter typically adheres to the tape and painlessly removed.

Bleeding control

  • Allow the wound to freely bleed for up to 5 minutes to allow the wound to clean itself unless there is significant blood loss or the blood squirts out of the wound.
  • Control the bleeding by placing direct pressure on the wound.

Once the bleeding is controlled, assess the symptoms to determine if it is required to consult a doctor.

Wound cleaning

Cleanse the wound right away to minimize the risk for infection, scarring and tattooing of the skin from any dirt left inside the wound.

  • Wash the wound for about 5 minutes using large amounts of cool water and soap.
  • Avoid using hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol or iodine since these can impair the tissue and delay the healing process.


The individual is assessed if a tetanus shot is required. The individual might have a localized reaction to the shot. Symptoms such as swelling, warmth and redness at the injection site and even fever can occur.

Pain relief

An ice pack can help reduce the swelling and bruising. Avoid applying an ice pack directly on the wound or skin since this can result to tissue damage.

The injured area must be raised on pillows while applying an ice pack. Make sure that the area is above the level of the heart to minimize the swelling.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on puncture wounds is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to provide proper care for puncture wounds, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.