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splinter removal

Splinter removal is a way to remove splinters of wood or other foreign bodies that are just under the skin.

Who is a candidate for the procedure? 
Just about any individual who has a splinter under the skin is a candidate. Those who might not be candidates are those who are on blood thinners, such as aspirin or warfarin, or those who have other injuries that are much more serious than a splinter under the skin.

How is the procedure performed? 
First, forceps and a straight pin or needle should be sterilised by soaking them in rubbing alcohol for 10 to 15 minutes or by boiling them in water for 10 minutes and then allowing them to cool. After this is done, the skin over the area of the splinter should be removed carefully with the straight pin. The forceps should then be grasped in the hands, and the splinter removed from the skin. After this, the area should be cleaned and a small dressing such as an adhesive bandage placed over the area.

What happens right after the procedure? 
After the splinter is removed, the site of splinter removal should be cleansed with soap and water. An adhesive bandage or other small dressing should be applied.

What happens later at home? 
Once the splinter is removed, there is usually good healing within 3 to 4 days without any long-term complications. If increasing redness, swelling, pain, or purulent (pus-like) discharge is noticed, a doctor should be consulted.

What are the potential complications after the procedure? 
  • One potential complication after splinter removal is infection. Signs of infection include increasing redness, swelling, pain, or purulent discharge. In addition, sometimes the splinter will break free and another portion of the splinter will be left under the skin. If some of the splinter remains under the skin, the risk of infection increases.
Author: James Broomfield, MD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 17/02/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.

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