A splinter is a thin piece of material (like wood, glass, or metal) that gets embedded just below the top layer of your skin.
To remove a splinter:
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Use tweezers to grab the splinter. Carefully pull it out at the same angle it went in.
- If the splinter is under the skin or hard to grab: Sterilize a pin or needle by soaking it in rubbing alcohol or placing the tip in a flame. Wash your hands with soap. Use the pin to gently remove skin over the splinter. Then use the tip of the pin to lift the end of the splinter out. You will probably still need to use tweezers as in step 2.
- Wash the area with soap and water after the splinter is out. Pat it dry. (Don't rub.) Apply antibiotic ointment. Bandage the cut only if it is likely to get dirty. It will heal faster if exposed to the air.
- See your doctor if there is inflammation or pus, or if the splinter is deeply embedded. Also, seek medical attention if the splinter is close to your eye.
Stone DB, Levine MR. Foreign body removal. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009: chap 36.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.