Due to a friends misfortune today, I had this idea for a blog post. So what do you do when you step on a nail?
First Aid: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap. Apply gentle pressure with a cloth to slow bleeding. Flush the wound with clean water and soap as soon as possible for about 10 minutes. If debris is in the wound, disinfect a pair of tweezers with alcohol and use to remove as much as you can from the puncture site. Apply antibiotic ointment generously to the wound area. Dress the wound with a clean bandage. After dressing the wound, do not weight bear on that foot. Keep weight off of the foot for at least 24 hours, elevate. You can take over the counter Tylenol or Ibuprofen. As the pain improves, you can gradually reintroduce weight bearing/ walking.
Tetanus or Not? Any open wound can make you susceptible to contracting tetanus, a rusty nail puts you at an even higher risk. We recommend that you have had your tetanus at least within the last five years. If not, you will need a Tetanus booster within 48 hours of the injury. CVS and Walgreens Pharmacists can administer Tetanus shots.
Antibiotics or Not? If the nail penetrated the sole of your shoe, yes, antibiotics are indicated to cover Pseudomonal infection. If the nail is new/clean, antibiotics may not be indicated right away, but keep a close eye for any signs of infection.
Signs of Infection are increasing soreness, inflammation, redness or red streaking, swelling, warmth to the area, drainage from the wound, fever. You should seek medical attention for the development of any of these symptoms.
Signs of Tetanus may not develop for up to 60 days after an injury. Symptoms of Tetanus infection can include lockjaw, rigid facial expression, trouble swallowing or drooling, muscle spasms, loss of bowel control and difficulty breathing because it "paralyzes" the diaphragm. If someone notices these symptoms some time after stepping on a nail, they should dial 911/report immediately to the ER.
Summing up, stepping on a nail can cause a puncture wound and can be at risk for infection. You can reduce the risk with implementing first aid. You will need a Tetanus vaccine if you have not had one within the last five years, or you cannot remember when your last one was. If the wound does not heal, becomes more painful and shows any sign of infection, seek further medical attention. Take advantage of the convenience of telemedicine and schedule a virtual visit with UVC! Melissa D. Roberts, PA-C/ Urgent Virtual Clinic LLC/ Urgentvirtualclinic.com/ 706-854-7000