A cut, or laceration, is a tear or opening in the skin that
occurs due to an external injury. It can be superficial, affecting only the
surface of your skin or deep enough to involve:
A puncture wound is a deep wound that occurs due to
something sharp and pointed, such as a nail. The opening on the skin is small,
and the puncture wound may not bleed much. Puncture wounds can easily become
infected. A doctor should always examine a deep puncture wound. Puncture wounds
that occur due to a bite or stepping on a rusty piece of metal, such as a nail,
need prompt medical attention.
A cut can cause external and internal bleeding. A
significant cut can cause profuse bleeding if it isn’t treated promptly and
properly. Cuts and puncture wounds that cause excessive blood loss or those
that damage the organs can be fatal.
What are the causes?
The most common causes of cuts and puncture wounds are
external injuries that break or tear the skin. These causes include:
- car accidents
- broken glass
- razor cuts
The most common causes for puncture wounds include:
- stepping on a sharp object,
such as a nail
- getting bitten
- falling onto something sharp
Although puncture wounds don’t normally bleed heavily, they’re
prone to infection. This is especially true if a bite or a rusty object caused
the wound. See your doctor immediately if this is the case.
First aid for cuts and puncture wounds
Cuts or puncture wounds that are minor may be treated at
home. For more severe cuts or puncture wounds, immediate medical attention is
First, stop any bleeding by covering the cut and applying
gentle pressure. If the cut is bleeding heavily and you aren’t able to stop it,
seek medical treatment immediately.
Next, clean the cut thoroughly with an alcohol wipe,
antiseptic wash, or clean water. Dip a cotton swab into hydrogen peroxide and
lightly roll it over the area of the cut to clean it. Use tweezers that have
been cleaned with alcohol to remove debris on the surface of the cut. If you
see debris embedded in the cut, don’t attempt to remove it. Seek help from your
doctor or go to the nearest emergency room.
Once the cut has been cleaned, apply an antibiotic cream to
it. This can prevent infection and speed the healing process. Apply a bandage
to the cut site. Change the bandage daily and whenever it becomes wet or dirty.
Deeper cuts may require medical treatment. Treatment options
for deep cuts include stitches, staples, or liquid stitches.
You may also need to take antibiotics to prevent infection.
First, attempt to stop the bleeding by covering the wound
with a clean bandage and applying gentle pressure. If the wound is bleeding
heavily and you cannot stop it, immediately seek emergency medical care.
Next, clean the area thoroughly using a small alcohol wipe.
Don’t attempt to wash a puncture wound. If you notice debris embedded into the
puncture wound, don’t try to remove it. Don’t probe the wound if you realize
part of the object that caused the wound has broken off. Instead, seek
emergency medical attention immediately.
Once the skin is clean, apply an over-the-counter antibiotic
cream to prevent infection. Cover the puncture wound with a bandage. You should
change the bandage daily or sooner if it becomes wet or dirty. Check for signs
of infection, such as:
- drainage, such as pus, from the wound site
- warmth or swelling in the surrounding area
When is a cut or puncture wound an emergency?
Although most minor puncture wounds and cuts heal without
treatment beyond first aid and home care, some should receive immediate medical
attention. Seek emergency medical care if you notice any of the following:
- the bleeding is heavy,
spurting, or doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of applying pressure
- feeling and function are
impaired in the area of the cut or wound
- muscle, tendon, or bone is
Contact your doctor immediately if:
- debris is embedded in the cut
- the cut or wound occurred due
to a bite
- you haven’t had a tetanus
shot in 10 years
- you stepped on an object,
such as a nail
- the cut or wound occurred due
to a fish hook
- the cut or wound shows the
symptoms of infection, such as swelling around the site, throbbing pain,
or fluid leaking from the cut or wound
Your doctor may suggest you get a
Complications of cuts and puncture wounds
Possible complications from a cut or puncture wound include:
- a wound infection
- a blood infection, or sepsis
- an amputation
- a loss of function in the
area of the wound
- nerve damage
- organ damage
Preventing cuts and puncture wounds
Prevent cuts and puncture wounds by taking the following
steps to ensure your physical safety:
- Don’t play sports without
using proper protective gear.
- Wear shoes and make sure the
soles are sturdy and cannot be punctured by a nail.
- Don’t use heavy machinery or
tools without wearing proper safety equipment and shoes.
- After an accident, quickly
clear away debris, such as broken glass.
- Dry up spills, especially on
slippery surfaces, before running or walking over the surface.