You can usually safely remove a small foreign object — such as a wood splinter, thorn, fiberglass or glass — that's just under the surface of the skin:
- Wash your hands and clean the area well with soap and water.
- Use tweezers cleaned with rubbing alcohol to remove the object. Use a magnifying glass to help you see better.
- If the object is under the surface of the skin, sterilize a clean, sharp needle by wiping it with rubbing alcohol. Use the needle to gently break the skin over the object and lift up the tip of the object.
- Use a tweezers to grab the end of the object and remove it.
- Wash the area again and pat dry. Apply petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment.
Seek prompt medical help for a foreign object that seems to be more deeply embedded in the skin or muscle. Follow these precautions and steps first:
- Don't try to remove the object. Doing so could cause further harm.
- Bandage the wound. First put a piece of gauze over the object. Then, if it helps, put clean padding around the object before binding the wound securely with a bandage or a piece of clean cloth. Take care not to press too hard on the object.
In addition, seek medical help if:
- The object is hard to see (as with clear glass) or doesn't come out easily (as with a fishhook).
- The injury involves an eye or is close to an eye.
- The wound is deep or dirty and the injured person's last tetanus vaccination was more than five years ago. The doctor may recommend a booster.
Dec. 10, 2019
- Litin SC, et al., eds. First aid and emergency care. In: Mayo Clinic Family Health Book. 5th ed. Mayo Clinic; 2018.
- Thompson DA. Skin, foreign body. In: Adult Telephone Protocols: Office Version. 4th ed. American Academy of Pediatrics; 2018.
- How to remove a splinter. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/injured-skin/remove-splinters. Accessed Oct. 24, 2019.