Have you ever encountered a splinter? If yes, then you know how painful and annoying this little problem could be. Splinter, which refers to a foreign substance partially or fully embedded on the skin, can cause infection or allergic response if not removed immediately. Foreign bodies can be anything from wood and metal to glass or plastic. They usually penetrate the skin on the hand or foot. If the splinter is embedded deeply into the skin, a medical professional can remove it safely. Otherwise, it can be safely removed at home.
You can get a splinter when you’re handling an object and a small portion dislodges when you apply friction. Examples of such activities include sliding on wooden floors, woodworking, and metal working. When you’re gardening, it’s also possible to encounter splinters from the protective thorns of plants. The foot is also typically injured when you step on a foreign body that slips into the skin of your foot.
Pain is the most common symptom. It’s easy to sense when a foreign body gets embedded into the skin. In most cases, the splinter is visible and obvious, making removal easy. If you didn’t notice that you have splinter, the area may become red, swollen, and tender after a few days.
Removing a Splinter
To remove a splinter, get a pair of tweezers and use it to grab the protruding end of the splinter. Pull it out gently in the same direction it has entered. After removing the splinter, wash the affected area with soap and water to prevent infection.
If the splinter is fully embedded inside the skin, you may use a small needle to get it out. But first, clean the small needle in alcohol. Use an antiseptic solution to clean the skin. Push the needle into the affected area gently to dislodge the splinter partially. When a part comes out, you can pull this out with the use of tweezers. Don’t forget to wash the area with soap and water.
If you feel queasy about pulling out the splinter or inserting needle into your skin, a good alternative is to soak the affected area in warm water. Add a tablespoon of baking soda into the water. Soak the affected area twice a day. Eventually, the splinter will work its way out.
Now, if the splinter is too deep to be removed at home or you just can’t pull this off on your own, go see a doctor. For very deep splinters, a doctor will make an incision using a scalpel to remove the splinter. He would of course numb the area first so you don’t feel any pain. The doctor will remove all parts of the foreign body from the area. He/she will also sanitize and disinfect the area to avoid infection.
For splinters under the fingernail, the doctor may need to remove a certain portion of the fingernail to remove the splinter. If the splinter has already caused infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. For more serious cases of infection, you may be required to take a tetanus shot. Your doctor will first examine your vaccination history before doing this.