Medically reviewed by Cynthia Taylor Chavoustie, MPAS, PA-C — created by danielle Dresden on July 31, 2020

Stepping ~ above a pond is a common injury that causes a puncture wound, often in the form of a ring hole. Puncture wounds can look small, yet as they deserve to penetrate deep into the skin, they can be challenging to clean and pose a hazard for infection.

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Initially, a puncture wound might not look serious, together they often bleed more internally 보다 externally. However, as nails on the soil are often dirty, they deserve to push soil, rust, wood, or garments fibers right into the foot.

In this article, we discuss how to bring out very first aid for this injury, once to seek clinical help, if a rusty nail reasons tetanus, and how to recuperate at home.


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Share top top PinterestPeople must visit a medical professional within 24 hours of stepping top top a nail in order to minimization the danger of tetanus or other infection.
If someone actions on a nail, they must take the following steps to clean and dress the wound:

Thoroughly to wash the hands with soap.Apply gentle press with a clean towel to slow the bleeding.Flush the wound v clean water and also soap as soon as possible for 5–10 minutes.If there is debris in the wound, disinfect part tweezers v rubbing alcohol and also use castle to eliminate as lot as possible.Apply antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, or both come the wound area if available.Dress the wound with a clean bandage.

Once a person has dressed the wound, they must seek clinical care and not put weight ~ above the foot.


When to acquire medical help

The American university of Foot and Ankle Surgeons indicate that civilization seek medical help within 24 hours after they action on a nail.

Stepping on a nail can push debris and bacteria right into the foot. Even if a human cleans the wound completely at home, or the wound look at small, there is quiet a risk of infection.

Clinicians estimate that 10% of civilization who step on a nail will develop an infection. Indicators of an epidemic include:

sorenessswellingwarmthredness

A person should not wait until these symptoms build to seek medical help. The best method to prevent an epidemic is early treatment. This might mean a visit to the hospital.


Do rusty nails reason tetanus? 

Rusty nails do not cause tetanus themselves, yet they often occupy dirty or dusty locations that port Clostridium tetani, the bacteria that cause tetanus. Stepping ~ above a nail have the right to spread this bacteria to humans.

Wounds are the many common way people obtain tetanus. However, widespread vaccination has decreased tetanus infection in the United states by 99% because 1947, follow to the U. S. Department of health and wellness & human Services.

The tetanus vaccine protects people versus tetanus and diphtheria. Some versions the the vaccine likewise protect versus pertussis, or whooping cough. Immunity from the vaccine lasts roughly 10 years.

All of these problems are possibly serious. Tetanus can be fatal in two human being out that every 10 who get it.

If a human who steps on a nail has actually not had actually a tetanus inoculation in the critical 5 years, they have to see a physician right away so lock can gain a top-up.

Symptoms that a tetanus epidemic include:

lockjaw, an i can not qualify to relocate the jawa rigid face expressiondrooling and difficulty swallowingmuscle spasms and painloss that bowel controldifficulty breathing

Someone may not develop tetanus symptoms for up to 60 days after one injury. If someone has actually these symptom after they action on a nail, they should dial the emergency number 911.

Learn an ext about tetanus.


Most puncture wounds room minor and also heal with no further issues. However, if a wound is deep, has actually ragged edges, or has a foreign object, it is more likely to construct complications. These have the right to include:

an abscess

Osteomyelitis develops slowly, and also may take it days or months to appear. Approximately 1–2% of people with a foot puncture wound walk on to develop this condition.

Many other varieties of epidemic can likewise occur if a human steps top top a nail, including Pseudomonas, which frequently lives top top rubber-soled shoes. Beforehand treatment indigenous a doctor or foot specialist is the best method to protect against these complications.


After someone receives clinical treatment for stepping ~ above a nail, they can recover in ~ home. Recovery time will rely on several factors, such as how deep the wound is. A person can help their restore by:

keeping load off the foot because that at the very least 24 hourselevating the footkeeping a clean dressing top top the wound, and transforming bandages follow to a doctor’s instructionsgradually reintroducing weight-bearing activities, such together walking, once the pain enhances

If a physician prescribes antibiotics, it is important to end up the course, even if the wound feel or looks better. Look for medical help if the wound does no improve, pain does not fully subside, or symptoms obtain worse.


Stepping ~ above a nail reasons a puncture wound, which frequently looks prefer a little hole in the foot. It may not bleed as much as a cut, yet due come the risk of infection, this kind of wound frequently requires medical attention.

A person deserve to reduce the threat of complications with an initial aid. They need to seek prompt clinical care, and keep the wound clean. A human may additionally need a tetanus vaccine if they have actually not had actually one in the critical 5 years.

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If a who wound does not heal, continues to hurt, or shows indicators of infection, they must seek further medical attention.