Accidentally stepping on a rusty nail is a common cause of injuries. This accident happens all the time and everywhere. While some experts state that having your bare foot wounded by a nail is better than stepping on it with your shoes on—with bacteria thriving on the soles and get into the wound with the nail, proper wound care is needed for a nail-wounded foot in order to minimize health problem it may cause.
Risks of nail wound in foot
Nails often cause puncture nails, which may go deep into the skin. Although usually not bleeding, puncture wounds can be harmful, especially when bacteria from the soil, shoes, and rusty nails go into the body through the wounded site. When a foot is wounded by a rusty nail and puncture wound occurs, there are some accompanying risks including:
- Infections—can be in a form of an abscess, cellulitis, or darkened dead tissues.
- Bone infection, which leads into death parts of the bones.
- In diabetic patients, infected nail puncture wound may develop into foot ulcer, which in severe condition might require amputation.
- Nail puncture wounds are also prone to tetanus. This is a disease caused by Clostridium bacteria, and can be life-threatening.
Treating a nail wound in foot
In order to prevent the risks brought by a nail wound in foot, treating it properly is essential. Treating a nail wound in foot is described as follow:
- Puncture wounds caused by nails should be treated immediately in order to prevent bacterial infection from bacteria residing in the injury-causing instruments.
- Wash the wound site with tap water and mild soap. Saline solution also works great in cleansing the wound and acts as an anti-bacterial agent.
- Most puncture wounds do not bleed. Hence, gently squeeze the wound site to encourage bleeding. Bleeding is a natural way of cleansing the wound, which trigger bacteria to come out of the wound site and prevent aerobic bacteria from infesting the wound. On the other hand, give the area around the wound site gentle pressure to stop bleeding and promote blood clot.
- If the nail wound bleeds heavily, elevate your foot to put it higher than your heart level. This is important to cut off blood supply pumped into the wound site on your foot, so that the bleeding can stop immediately.
- Observe the wound for debris and left small materials. Do not try to remove the nail, however, if it goes down beneath the skin, as this may damage inner tissues and cause infection. Go to the ER immediately if this is what happens. Otherwise, pick small debris and dirt with tweezers which have been sterilized in saline solution. Do this carefully, not to tear the skin off, as this might worsen the wound site condition.
- After removing small debris or sharp objects from the wound, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to the wound. This ointment will keep the wound moist and thus, trigger new cell formation.
- Put dressing onto the wound site. Although some puncture wounds do not commonly need a bandage, it is recommended for a nail puncture wound located on the foot to be bandaged. This can be a barrier for bacteria and hazardous germs from entering the wound site and trigger infection.
- Change the bandage regularly every day and clean the wound by rinsing it with saline solution before putting a new dressing.
If you are experiencing severe nail puncture wound, it is important to note some things, such as:
- Avoid picking the material from the wound, as it may worsen the bleeding and damage.
- Wounds caused by rusty or dirty nails should be scrutinize professionally for the possibility of developing tetanus. If you have not had tetanus shot within the last 10 years, it is likely that tetanus booster will be given.
- If the puncture wound causes tore skin which requires stitches, make sure you go to the ER within the next 8 hours. Wounds which is left open more than the period is not recommended to be sutured, as it may trap possible bacteria inside the wound and lead to infection.