Splinters are foreign objects which are partly or completely lodged into the skin. Generally, splinters are wood, but glass, metal and plastic are also considered as one.
In most cases, a splinter can be removed without medical care. Remember that splinters are packed with germs. If not removed, it can trigger an infection.
Oftentimes, splinters require removal by a healthcare professional, especially those that are fully lodged beneath a toenail or fingernail.
What are the causes?
- Holding an object might cause a small region to dislodge as friction is applied on it.
- Thorns of plants can lodge into the skin while gardening
- Those who are handling meat can end up with a bone splinter penetrating the skin
- Stepping on a foreign object or sliding forward on a rough wooden deck or on shards of glass.
What are the signs?
Generally, a splinter is quite evident. There is discomfort and sensation of a foreign object implanted in the skin.
Oftentimes, the splinter can be seen in or beneath the skin. There is only limited flow of blood or no bleeding at all. The tip of the splinter may or might not be felt. In some cases, the foreign body is not noticed until an infection arises. Once this occurs, the site turns red, warm, swollen and tender.
Management of splinters
- With a pair of tweezers, hold the protruding tip of the splinter and draw it out in the direction that it entered. Cleanse the site with water and soap.
- Generally, splinters might be completely embedded in the skin. With a small-sized needle, sterilize it in boiling water. Cleanse the skin using an antiseptic. Using the needle, gently and partially dislodge the splinter which is fully removed with tweezers. Wash the site again with water and soap.
- In case the splinter is too deep, a doctor should be seen. In case you were able to remove a segment of the splinter but some of it is left embedded in the skin, a doctor should be seen so that the leftover segment can be removed.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on splinters is for learning purposes only. Learn to properly deal with splinters by taking a standard first aid course with Toronto First Aid.