There are some situations in which it's difficult to determine whether an injury requires urgent care, and foot punctures are among them. Puncture wounds usually leave behind only small entry holes, so the extent of injury and scope of possible complications aren't always clearly evident. If you've stepped on something and it has penetrated your foot, determine whether or not you need medical help by asking yourself these 5 questions.

1. How Deep Is The Wound?

If the object you stepped on has gone deep into your foot, it could have torn or damaged nerves, bones, muscles, or ligaments. Such injuries could result in long-term complications, such as dangerous infections, painful scarring, and/or loss of mobility of the foot. Some puncture wounds bleed only slightly or don't bleed at all, so your extent of blood loss is not a good indication of how far into your foot the object has penetrated.

Take a good look at your puncture wound. If you can't clearly see the point at which penetration stopped, get yourself to an urgent care center to have your wound evaluated.

2. When Was Your Last Tetanus Shot?

Tetanus is a potentially deadly condition caused by bacteria. This bacteria can be found everywhere in your environment and can enter your body through any open wound. You should have received a tetanus vaccination as a child and a tetanus booster every 10 years thereafter. However, since puncture wounds increase your risk of developing tetanus, it's recommended that you get a tetanus booster following a puncture wound if you haven't received one within the past 5 years.

If you haven't had a tetanus booster within the 5 years preceding your injury or if you can't remember when your last booster shot was, visit an urgent care center right away; the bacteria responsible for tetanus needs only 3 days to incubate in your body and begin releasing toxins.

3. Do You Have Any Underlying Medical Conditions?

Some diseases and disorders can interfere with the blood flow to your wound, thus inhibiting the healing process and boosting your risk of developing a severe infection at your wound site. These conditions include diabetes, malnutrition, cardiovascular disease, kidney disorders, and varicose veins

If you have or suspect you might have an underlying medical condition, decrease your risk of complications arising from your foot puncture wound by visiting an urgent care center for wound treatment.

4. Is The Object You Stepped On Fully Intact?

In order to prevent infection, it's crucial that your puncture wound be clean and free of debris. While instances of objects being retained in the wound occur in fewer than 10 percent of foot puncture wound cases, it's still a possibility. If you know what you stepped on, examine the object ever so closely to make sure that it is fully intact and a portion of it is not still inside your wound. If the object is not fully intact or you're not sure what you stepped on, a visit to the urgent care center is necessary.

Make sure you provide your urgent care specialist with as many details as possible when describing your injury. If you suspect it was a nail you stepped on but aren't quite sure, they need to know this. An x-ray will usually detect the presence of metal debris that has been left in the foot, but it may not detect small pieces of glass or wood. To determine whether or not a piece of non-metal material has been left in your foot, you'll need an advanced imaging test, such as a CT or MRI.

5. Were You Wearing Shoes?

This is an important question, and not for the reason you may think. If you had on rubber-soled shoes when a foreign object entered your foot, you're actually at an increased risk of developing an infection. Why? Pseudomonas bacteria thrive on rubber sneaker soles, and they can cause a bone-destroying infection in your foot. If you had a shoe on your foot at the time of your injury, there is a chance that a bit of its sole could have torn off and become embedded in your foot. To prevent Pseudomonas bacteria from taking hold, you need to visit an urgent care center and have your foot examined for rubber matter.

Not all foot puncture wounds require urgent care, but it can be difficult to determine which ones do and don't. If you've stepped on an object and sustained a foot puncture wound, ask yourself the above five questions to determine whether or not you should seek medical attention right away at a clinic like Premier Urgent Care Centers of California, Inc.