- The skin is punctured by a narrow, sharp object (e.g. a nail, pencil, toothpick)
- Pencil lead is actually graphite (harmless), not poisonous lead. Even colored leads are not toxic. They will cause a tattoo, however, and should be scrubbed out
See More Appropriate Topic
- If animal caused it, see ANIMAL OR HUMAN BITES
- If looks infected, see WOUND INFECTION
- If skin is cut or scraped (not punctured), see TRAUMA, SKIN
Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
- Puncture on the head, neck, chest or abdomen that may be deep
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
- You think your child has a serious injury
- Puncture on the head, neck, chest, abdomen that isn't deep
- Puncture overlying a joint
- Tip of the object is broken off and missing
- Won't stand (bear weight or walk) on punctured foot
- Needle stick from used or discarded injection needle
- Sharp object was very dirty (e.g. a rusty nail)
- Setting was dirty and occurs on bare foot
- No previous tetanus shots
- Dirt (debris) or pencil lead pigment that can be seen in the wound is not gone after 15 minutes of scrubbing
- Severe pain
- Wound looks infected (redness, red streaks, swollen, tenderness)
- Fever occurs
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Last tetanus booster was over 5 years ago
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
- You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
- Minor puncture wound and you don't think your child needs to be seen
Home Care Advice for Puncture Wound
- Cleansing: Wash with soap and warm water for 15 minutes. For any dirt or debris, scrub the wound surface back and forth with a wash cloth to remove it. If the wound rebleeds a little, that may help remove germs.
- Trimming: Cut off any flaps of loose skin that seal the wound and interfere with drainage or removing debris. Use a fine scissors, after cleaning them with rubbing alcohol.
- Antibiotic Ointment: Apply an antibiotic ointment and a Band-Aid to reduce the risk of infection. Re-soak the area and re-apply an antibiotic ointment every 12 hours for 2 days.
- Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for any pain.
- Expected Course: Puncture wounds seal over in 1 to 2 hours. Pain should resolve within 2 days.
Call Your Doctor If
- Dirt in the wound persists after 15 minutes of scrubbing
- Pain becomes severe
- It begins to look infected (redness, red streaks, tenderness, pus, fever)
Your child becomes worse or develops any of the "Call Your Doctor Now" symptoms