Cut yourself walking barefoot? It's more serious than you realize
February 26, 2015. Bare feet are universally associated with summer, but for those who enjoy walking barefoot, a local foot and ankle surgeon warns that inattention to seemingly minor puncture wounds on the soles of your feet can allow serious infections to develop and spread.
“Going barefoot heightens risk for puncture wounds, which require different treatment from cuts because the tiny holes often harbor foreign matter under the skin,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. “Glass, nails, needles and seashells are common offenders. Regardless of the substance, anything that remains in the wound increases your chances for complications.”
Puncture wounds in the feet too often are superficially treated, according to Dr. Gordon, and it is best to get proper care within the first 24 hours to make sure anything that might be embedded in the wound is removed. He notes research suggests that 10 percent of puncture wounds do result in serious infection, but such complications can be prevented with prompt and appropriate medical attention.
The depth and relative cleanliness of a puncture wound are the main factors determining possible infection risk.
“Studies show 60 percent of patients who required incision and drainage of a puncture wound had something embedded,” says Dr. Gordon. “With the increasing prevalence of drug-resistant bacteria, even healthy people are getting potentially life-threatening staph infections. So if you step on something and the skin is broken, get treated right away.”
Treatment involves a thorough cleaning to decrease infection risk. Tetanus shots often are needed. Following treatment, the wound should be monitored carefully at home.
“Sometimes an infection can develop later and migrate to the bones,” says Dr. Gordon. “So if the wound stays red, swollen and sore after a few days, go back to the doctor for further treatment. In all cases, a puncture wound on your foot should never be taken lightly.”
For further information about puncture wounds and other foot conditions, contact Dr. Gordon at (703) 368-7166 or visit the ACFAS consumer Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.