A splinter is a thin, foreign object, such as wood, glass, metal or plastic, that becomes partially or fully embedded in your skin and may cause pain or bleeding. Although splinters sometimes work their way out of your skin on their own, you should remove a splinter right away to avoid infection and to prevent the splinter from moving deeper into your skin. You can remove a splinter from your finger at home, but seek medical care if the splinter is under your fingernail, too deep to remove yourself or looks infected.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Rubbing alcohol
- Antibiotic ointment
Wash your hands with soap and water, including the area of your finger containing the splinter.
Use clean tweezers to grab the protruding end of the splinter and pull it out in the same angle it went in. If the splinter is fully embedded in your skin or is not protruding enough to grab with tweezers, sterilise a small, clean needle with rubbing alcohol, then clean the affected area of your finger with an antiseptic. Use the needle to gently break the skin over the splinter and lift the tip of the splinter out so that it is protruding enough to grab with tweezers, then remove the splinter fully with the tweezers.
Wash the area with soap and water and pat dry. Apply an antibiotic ointment to the area that the splinter was removed from but only cover it with a bandage if it is likely to get dirty, as covering it will lengthen healing time.
Tips and warnings
- Splinters can be covered in germs, so look out for signs of infection, such as pus, increased pain, redness, swelling and/or red streaking, in the affected area.
- Seek medical care if the splinter is embedded under a fingernail or too deep remove or if the affected area is inflamed or infected. Do not try to remove the splinter yourself.
- Seek medical care if severe bleeding occurs during or after splinter removal or if you were only able to remove part of the splinter (See References 1 and 2). You should also seek medical care if inflammation or infection occurs after you remove the splinter, as this may be a sign that a fragment of the splinter is still embedded in your skin and will need to be removed by a doctor (See Reference 2).
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