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If you pierce or puncture your skin with a used needle, follow this first aid advice immediately:
You should also seek urgent medical advice as you may need treatment to reduce the risk of getting an infection:
Injuries from needles used in medical procedures are sometimes called needle-stick or sharps injuries.
Sharps can include other medical supplies, such as syringes, scalpels and lancets, and glass from broken equipment.
Once someone has used a needle, viruses in their blood, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV, may contaminate it. This includes needles used to inject illegal drugs. Blood can also contaminate sharps.
The healthcare professional treating you will assess the risks to your health and ask about your injury – for example, how and when it happened, or who had used the needle.
Samples of your blood may need to be tested for hepatitis B and C or HIV.
Although rare, there's also a small risk of other infections being transmitted through contaminated blood, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus.
Your healthcare professional may also arrange to test samples of the other person's blood if they give their consent.
If your healthcare professional thinks you're at low risk of infection, you may not need any treatment.
If there's a higher risk of infection, you may need:
Your healthcare professional may recommend that you get:
If you injure yourself with a used needle at work, report the incident immediately to your supervisor or manager.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.