Puncture Wound Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on January 15, 2020

Call 911 if the person is seriously injured or a puncture wound:

  • Bleeds excessively
  • Spurts blood
  • Does not stop bleeding after 10 minutes of firm pressure
  • Is to the chest, abdomen, or neck
  • Is accompanied by any emergency symptoms: severe pain, fast breathing or trouble breathing, vomiting, dizziness, unconsciousness
  • Is to the eye or in the throat. Leave the object in place. Keep the person calm.

Call or see a health care provider immediately if:

  • The object that caused the puncture wound cannot be easily removed
  • The puncture wound is deep, on the face, or touching bone
  • The wound is visibly dirty
  • The wound is an animal or human bite
  • The wound occurred through the bottom of a shoe -- stepping on a nail, for example

1. Remove the Object if You Can

  • If the object that caused the puncture is small and you can easily remove it, do so.

2. Stop the Bleeding

  • Apply firm, direct pressure with sterile gauze or clean cloth until bleeding stops.

3. Clean and Protect the Wound

  • Rinse the wound under clean water for several minutes. Then wash the area with mild soap and water and rinse again.
  • Apply an antibiotic cream.
  • Use a sterile bandage to protect the puncture wound from dirt or further injury.

4. Treat Pain


5. Follow-up

  • See a healthcare provider for any signs of infection: redness, increasing pain, swelling, or pus at the site.
  • Ask the healthcare provider if a tetanus shot is needed.
  • Some wounds may need antibiotics. Ask the healthcare provider.