How to tell if a puncture wound is infected

Have you ever been pierced by a sharp object before? You may have experienced being injured while making some of your home improvement and repairs or had an accident with something pointed such as stepping on a nail or getting bit by an animal. People often get puncture wounds from these accidents by being pierced with sharp, pointy objects. Nails, wires, broken glass, sharp tools like a screwdriver, or getting bit by an animal are just some of the things that can cause this. These wounds can often be shallow, just grazing the surface of the skin resulting in little to no bleeding, or it can also be deep, which may be concerning, especially if it causes heavy bleeding to occur. They are also prone to infections as they are somewhat hard to clean and provide a good place for bacteria to grow and fester because of the moist and warm environment it provides. Puncture wounds can be inflicted anywhere in the body but occur more commonly in the upper and lower extremities such as the hands and feet.

According to Healthcreeds, a website composed of healthcare professional writers dedicated to publishing articles related to health and wellness – a puncture wound is one of the 5 most common injuries of the foot. This is especially common in people who tend to walk barefooted; nonetheless, even those who wear protective footings such as shoes, slippers, etc. are susceptible to this. This is highly likely, especially if the object that has punctured through is long and sharp enough that it can penetrate the soles of the feet. Basic first aid is a must in this situation to prevent the spread of infection and further complications. While possibly getting an infection is very concerning and problematic to deal with once it starts progressing, a very important and correct first step is to control possible bleeding by applying pressure. This is crucial in attempting basic first aid response to a puncture wound, especially if the cut is deep enough to have damaged something major like an artery or organ. After making sure that the bleeding is in control, the next step is to clean the affected area, making sure there are no more leftover debris to prevent any spread of infection. Additionally, they have pointed out in one of their article that gangrene is one of the more common infections of the foot caused by wound punctures that may occur due to the increased moisture and closed confined space provided when wearing shoes. It is caused by an untreated bacterial infection which is dangerous and can lead to a potentially fatal condition if neglected. This happens when the blood flow in a large area of tissue such as in the feet is cut off, causing the tissues to break down and die, leaving the affected skin a greenish-black color looking decayed. If this is left untreated, bacteria from gangrene can pass to the bloodstream and cause septic shock. Amputation, usually as a last resort, can prevent gangrene from spreading to other parts of the body. 

For most injuries such as a puncture in the skin, this naturally triggers pain sensitive signals from the site of injury through our nervous system to the brain to alert of a possible laceration that would prompt us to take precautionary measures to prevent any cause for complications. In some cases, however, such as those with diabetic patients, they tend to develop diabetic neuropathy, a condition that makes them lose pain sensation in their feet, making them less aware of a possible injury. This may eventually go unnoticed and cause possible complications such as infection spreading to the bones, causing osteomyelitis. That is why diabetic patients are advised to check the soles and webs of their feet daily to identify any unnoticed wounds. Besides the case for diabetic patients, we can usually tell if a puncture wound is infected as there are usually tell-tale signs of a possible infection. One of the immune responses of the body to infection is the rise in our body temperature, otherwise commonly known as having a fever. The increase in body temperature can kill some microorganisms that may have invaded our system and trigger the body’s repair process. Another thing to keep a lookout for is any changes that can be seen or felt from the site of injury. Redness spreading from the entry point, swelling of the affected area, pus oozing out of the cut, and pain at the puncture site are just indicators of possible inflammation.

Treatments may vary depending on the situation and the likely cause of the puncture. A tetanus shot is likely needed for injuries caused by sharp metals, especially rusted ones. On the other hand, getting bitten by an animal deep enough to cause actual bleeding will likely get you injections of several anti-rabies treatments. Getting pierced by the shattered glass is also quite complicated as ensuring no pieces are left inside the punctured hole before it heals is very important in preventing further problems in the future. A bullet wound is also an injury that must be treated immediately but with caution as the risk of complications are high. These are typical situations where patients overlook and dismiss their injuries as something minor, which can easily be treated with some gauze and a band-aid but can cause further harm in the long run. Complications may still arise after applying basic first aid. Thus, it is still highly recommended to get checked out in a hospital or clinic by your healthcare providers for a more thorough screening of the wound. Professional help from healthcare experts is always the best option in ensuring no further complications arise in the future.