By Michael King
How to Treat Foot Lacerations
Cuts are among the most common foot injuries, because our feet meet with so many surfaces that can contain sharp objects. Therefore, it's important to know how to treat foot lacerations.
If you sustain a minor cut, wash the area with tap or other clean water and apply hydrogen peroxide or a topical antiseptic. Then cover the cut with a bandage or sterile gauze or cloth. Minor cuts can take up to ten minutes to stop bleeding; applying pressure to the cut can help stop the bleeding. Most minor cuts will heal on their own if kept clean and covered.
If the cut is deep and blood is spurting out, don't worry about cleaning the area -- just cover it as best you can and apply pressure. (If it is a puncture wound, however, see special instructions at the bottom of this page.) If you have clean bandaging material handy, use that, but if you don't, wrap an article of clothing around the foot, or even use your hand until someone can bring you a substitute covering. If blood soaks through the first layer of bandage, don't remove it (pulling it up will undo whatever clotting has occurred); just add a second layer.
Even after covering a wound, continue to apply pressure with your hand. If someone is with you, ask them to do this while you lie down, with your foot propped up above the level of your heart; if you're alone, try to elevate the foot while applying pressure. By elevating a wound, you slow the flow of blood to that part of the body. This is especially important to do with the feet, because they are the lowest part of your body.
If you suffer anything other than a superficial cut, see a doctor. A culture and sensitivity test may be required, or you may need antibiotics. Sometimes a tetanus injection is necessary if the wound is particularly deep; if there is inflammation, the wound may need to be drained. If the layer of fat below the skin is visible, sutures may be required.
If the injury is a puncture wound, seek medical attention, even if the wound stops bleeding or seems minor. You may need a tetanus shot. Many people think you need a tetanus shot only if you step on a rusty nail: Not so! You can develop tetanus or other infection from all sorts of contaminated items.
If a foreign body remains embedded in your foot, do not try to pull it out; you may widen the wound or, even worse, cause the object to injure a nerve or blood vessel. Avoid applying antiseptics or any bandage that will press the object farther into the flesh. Instead, cover the wound area loosely with a sterile cloth or gauze that will help blood begin to clot. Then get to a doctor or hospital emergency room.
A broken bone in your foot is another common injury that it's important to know how to handle. Learn more on the next page.
To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:
- Everyday Foot Problems: Discover what causes some of the most commonly encountered foot problems, as well as how to treat or avoid them.
- How to Care for Your Feet:
Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with
these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right