Lax Care of Foot Puncture Wounds Hikes Risk for Serious Infections

6/28/2005

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: 
Melissa Matusek
Public Relations Manager, 773.693.9300, ext. 1306
melissa.matusek@acfas.org

Twitter: @FootHealthFacts 

CHICAGO, June 28, 2005 – Bare feet are universally associated with summer, but for those who enjoy walking barefoot, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) warned today 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,” said Matthew Roberts, DPM, FACFAS, a prominent Oklahoma-based foot and ankle surgeon. “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 Roberts, 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 noted that research shows 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, according to the ACFAS website, FootHealthFacts.org. “Studies show 60 percent of patients who required incision and drainage of a puncture wound had something embedded,” said Roberts. “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,” he advised.

Staph is a common bacterium (staphylococcus aureus) that lives harmlessly on the skin of about 30 percent of healthy individuals and spreads on contact to anyone with a cut or wound. Staph will penetrate skin breaks and cause localized infections. Some strains through the years have become highly resistant to numerous antibiotics and may infect bones (osteomyelitis), lungs (staph pneumonia), blood (sepsis), the heart (endocarditis) and other organs. US hospitals have reported that antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria account for 40 percent of soft tissue infections.

In the summer months, visits to foot and ankle surgeons predictably increase for puncture wound care. Proper treatment involves thorough cleaning to decrease infection risk and 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,” said Roberts. “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 and to locate a foot and ankle surgeon in your area, visit FootHealthFacts.org. 

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