Coping with Puncture Wounds to the Ankles and Feet

crocodile photo
We may not have crocodiles in Colorado, but a recent story about a man who suffered puncture wounds in a crocodile attack reminds us that we should treat puncture wound injuries as potential emergencies.

Puncture wounds to the feet and ankles occur more often in the warm-weather months, and these injuries are common in Colorado, where hiking, biking, rafting and other outdoor activities that put people at risk for puncture wounds are popular.

One thing we don’t have to worry about causing such wounds here is crocodiles. But a recent story about a crocodile attack and its resulting injuries to the victim’s ankle and foot provides food for thought about how to properly deal with a puncture wound if you don’t have access to immediate medical attention.

Crocodile Fears

According to a BBC report, a 19-year-old man is recovering from puncture wounds to his right ankle and foot after a crocodile attack. The man was camping with family in northern Australia when a crocodile approached his tent and latched onto his foot.

The man was able to fight off the crocodile, which retreated to a nearby creek. With the immediate danger over, his sister drove him to the closest town (about two hours away from their campsite) for treatment. Though his injuries were not life-threatening, he was provided with antibiotics to prevent infection, which can be a risk with many puncture wounds.

Puncture Wounds and Infection

Puncture wounds pose a particular threat of infection because debris from the object that pierced the skin can enter the wound. On its puncture wounds page, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) notes that every puncture wounds is considered a “dirty wound” because it involves the penetration of the skin by an object that is not sterile.

puncture wound photo
Puncture wounds are especially common in the spring and summer months.

It’s important to seek treatment for these injuries as soon as possible, even if they seem minor. If you suffer a puncture wound and don’t have access to immediate care, remove any visible foreign objects, then flush the wound with clean water or hydrogen peroxide. Bleeding may be controlled with a gauze pad or clean cloth until you’re able to see a doctor.

Seeing a Podiatrist for a Puncture Wound

Puncture wounds should be cleaned thoroughly and monitored carefully throughout the healing process. The ACFAS recommends that even those who received primary treatment for a puncture wound from an emergency room doctor or a general practitioner see a foot and ankle specialist for follow-up care.

Infections can develop days after puncture-related injuries occur, and puncture wounds can also lead to painful scarring or cysts without proper treatment. A knowledgeable podiatrist understands the adverse effects of puncture wounds, and can help you achieve an optimal recovery and get you back on your feet as soon as possible.

If you’re in need of treatment for a puncture wound, or other condition affecting the ankle and foot, the knowledgeable and compassionate team at the Foot & Ankle Center of Northern Colorado is here to help. Please call our Greeley office at 970-351-0900 or our Longmont office at 303-772-3232 to schedule your appointment.

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