You can easily prevent tetanus simply by being immunized
against the infection. Almost all cases of tetanus occur in people
who've never been immunized or who haven't had a tetanus booster shot
within the preceding 10 years.
The tetanus vaccine usually is given to children as part
of the diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis (DTP) shot. This
shot provides protection against three diseases: diphtheria (a throat
and respiratory infection), pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. The
latest version of this immunization is known as the diphtheria and
tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DtaP) vaccine.
The DTaP vaccine consists of a series of five shots,
typically administered in the arm and given to children at ages:
to 18 months
Adults should receive a routine tetanus booster shot
every 10 years. If you're traveling internationally, make sure you have
an up-to-date immunity against tetanus. If you receive a wound and it
has been more than 5 years since your last booster shot, get another
booster shot. A booster of the tetanus vaccine is typically given in
combination with a booster of diphtheria vaccine and is called the
tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, adult type (Td) vaccine.
Having had a tetanus infection doesn't provide immunity.
Following recommendations for vaccinations is necessary to prevent
recurrence of tetanus. If you were never vaccinated against tetanus as a
child, see your doctor about getting the Td vaccine. You cannot get
tetanus from the vaccine.
If you have a wound, these steps will help prevent you
from contracting tetanus:
Keep the wound clean.
Rinse with clean water. Clean the area around the wound with soap
and a washcloth. Remove any dirt or debris with clean tweezers. If
debris is embedded in a wound, see your doctor. Hydrogen peroxide,
iodine or an iodine-containing cleanser may be used to clean around
a wound. But don't use these cleansers on the wound itself because
they irritate the area of the wound.
Consider the source.
Puncture wounds or other deep cuts, animal bites or particularly
dirty wounds put you at increased risk of tetanus infection. Call
your doctor if the wound is deep and dirty, and particularly if
you're unsure of your immunization status. Your doctor may need to
clean the wound, prescribe an antibiotic and give you a booster shot
of the tetanus toxoid vaccine. If you've previously been immunized,
your body should quickly make the needed antibodies to protect you
Use an antibiotic.
After you clean the wound, apply a thin layer of an antibiotic cream
or ointment, such as the multi-ingredient antibiotics Neosporin or
Polysporin. These antibiotics won't make the wound heal faster, but
they can discourage bacterial growth and infection and allow your
body to close the wound more efficiently. Certain ingredients in
some ointments can cause a mild rash in some people. If a rash
appears, stop using the ointment.
Cover the wound.
Exposure to the air will speed healing, but bandages can help keep
the wound clean and keep harmful bacteria out. Blisters that are
draining are vulnerable and should be covered until a scab forms.
Change the dressing.
Applying a new dressing at least once a day or whenever the dressing
becomes wet or dirty may help prevent infection. If you're allergic
to the adhesive used in most bandages, switch to adhesive-free
dressings or sterile gauze and paper tape.
2 > 3 >