Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Puncture Wound


  • The skin is punctured by a pointed narrow object (such as a needle)
  • The skin opening is very small and often closed
  • Puncture wounds that contain splinters or slivers are covered elsewhere

Call or Return If

  • You can't remove the object that punctured the skin
  • Dirt in the wound still there after 15 minutes of scrubbing
  • Pain becomes severe
  • Looks infected (redness, red streaks, pus, fever)
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic


  • The main symptom is a little bleeding.
  • Puncture wounds are also painful.


  • Commonly caused by a nail, sewing needle, pin, tack, pencil, toothpick.
  • Pencil lead is actually graphite (harmless), not poisonous lead. Even colored leads are not toxic.


  • Careful adult supervision of young children
  • Education of older children about high risk behaviors

After Care Advice

  • Most puncture wounds do not need to be seen.
  • The main risk is becoming infected.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
  • First wash off the dirty foot or hand with soap and water.
  • Then soak the puncture wound in warm soapy water for 15 minutes.
  • For any dirt or debris, scrub the wound surface back and forth. Use a wash cloth to remove any dirt.
  • If the wound re-bleeds a little, that may help remove germs.
  • Washing the wound right away can prevent infections.
Antibiotic Ointment:
  • Use an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin. No prescription is needed.
  • Then, cover with a Band-Aid to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Re-wash the wound and put on antibiotic ointment every 12 hours.
  • Do this for 2 days.
Pain Medicine:
  • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed.
Tetanus Shot:
  • A tetanus shot update may be needed for a puncture wound.
  • Check your vaccine records to see when your child got the last one.
  • If last tetanus shot was given over 5 years ago, your child needs a booster.
  • See your child's doctor for a booster during regular office hours. It's safe to give it within 3 days or less.
What to Expect:
  • Puncture wounds seal over in 1 to 2 hours.
  • Pain should go away within 2 days.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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