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Puncture Wound: Foot

A puncture is a hole through the skin. Bacteria, dirt, and debris can be drawn into this wound, increasing the risk of infection. Antibiotics are usually not prescribed for this injury unless signs of infection are already present. Therefore, it is important to observe the wound closely for the signs of infection listed below.

If you were wearing a rubber-soled shoe when the sharp object punctured your foot, there is a chance that bacteria (called "pseudomonas") from the sole of the shoe may be dragged into the wound and infect the skin, tendon or bone. This infection may start as late as 2-3 weeks after the injury. It is more serious and harder to treat than the common staph and strep skin infections, so follow the advice below.

Home Care:

  • Keep the foot raised during the first 24-48 hours to reduce swelling and pain.

  • DO NOT BEAR WEIGHT on the injured foot if it hurts to do so.

  • You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. [NOTE: If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.]

  • You may shower as usual, but do not soak the wound in water (no baths or swimming) until the wound seals and there is no more drainage or bleeding.

  • Keep the wound clean and dry. If a bandage was applied and it becomes wet or dirty, replace it. Otherwise, keep the wound covered until there is no more drainage or bleeding.

Follow Up:

Most puncture wounds heal within 10 days. However, an infection may sometimes occur despite proper treatment. If small particles were drawn into the puncture wound (such as fragments of cloth, rubber, wood or dirt), an infection may occur. These fragments are very hard to find during the first exam since it is not possible to get a good look inside a puncture wound and they do not show on an X-ray. Antibiotics and a minor surgical procedure to find and remove the foreign object will be needed if this happens.

Over the next 2-3 weeks, check the wound daily for the warning signs listed below. If you are still having swelling or pain in the foot after two weeks, you should contact your doctor or return to this facility for an x-ray to look for an infection in the bone.

[NOTE: Any X-rays taken will be reviewed by a radiologist. You will be notified of any new findings that may affect your care.]

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Increasing pain

  • Foot becomes cold, blue, numb, or tingly

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Redness, warmth, swelling or drainage from the wound

  • Pain or swelling that lasts for two weeks


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