First aid

29 June 2005

Objects in the skin

Have look at how to remove splinters or pieces of glass and metal.

Most splinters or pieces of glass or metal can be removed easily.

Home treatment

  • Wash your hands. Don’t let the area around a wooden splinter get wet. Wood swells when wet, which will make it more difficult to remove the splinter.
  • If the splinter is visible above the skin, squeeze the flesh around it which will either let it pop out, or make it easier to grab. Sterilise a pair of tweezers in an open flame, allow it to cool and wipe off the soot. Remove the splinter, at the same angle as its entry.
  • If a part remains embedded immediately below the skin surface, sterilise a needle, and gently loosen the skin around the splinter. Try to lift the end of the splinter. Then, by using the tweezers again, make sure that the entire splinter is removed.
  • Once it is removed, squeeze the flesh around the wound to bring about a little bleeding. This will help remove any dirt. Clean the area with soapy water, let it dry and apply an antiseptic ointment.

See a doctor if:

  • you cannot remove the splinter
  • the area becomes infected
  • your tetanus immunisation is not up to date. Splinters and other foreign bodies carry the risk of tetanus.

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