The "Ouch" Factor: What to Do about Splinters
|The warm, sunny weather of summer is an invitation for us to shed our shoes and socks and run barefoot. However, running or walking (both inside and outside) barefoot places us at risk of splinters. |
When you have a splinter in your foot, you will feel pain or discomfort and the sensation that something is embedded in the skin. Although wood splinters are most common, tiny bits of plastic, shards of metal or even broken glass can penetrate an unprotected foot.
While small splinters can be removed at home, any large or deep splinters in the foot should be removed by a podiatric physician. Anyone with diabetes should be especially vigilant, because a small splinter can grow quickly into a serious infection.
There are numerous home remedies that can help make removing splinters simple and fairly painless. Here are steps you can follow to safely remove a splinter from the foot:
1. Start by soaking the foot in warm water to soften the skin.
2. Wash your hands and gently clean the area of your foot in which the splinter is lodged.
3. Once the skin is soft, try to squeeze out the splinter by putting your fingers on either side of the splinter and pinching gently.
4. If the splinter won't come out by squeezing, disinfect a pair of tweezers and a needle with rubbing alcohol, iodine, or boiling water and let them dry. If the splinter is still sticking out of the skin, use the tweezers to grasp the end and pull gently but firmly.
5. You want to avoid breaking the splinter, which would leave the tail end in the skin. To remove the entire splinter, pull it out at the same angle that it entered the body. Most splinterswill come out easily.
6. If you can't grasp the splinter with the tweezers, use the very tip of a sterile needle to slightly open the skin where the splinter is lodged. Grasp the end of the splinter with the tweezers and pull firmly. DO NOT dig for the splinter.
7. Disclaimer: Use of a needle can assist with the removal of a splinter. However, use with caution to prevent further injury.
8. Remember to gently wash your foot once you're done.
Contact a podiatric physician if you're having trouble reaching the splinter, if you are making the wound worse, or if the area becomes red, swollen, or hot to the touch, either after you remove the splinter or you cannot see any foreign body under the skin. Whatever is embedded in your foot will determine how the podiatric physician will treat you. Deeply embedded foreign bodies may require a surgical procedure. Sometimes a local anesthetic is needed to completely remove a foreign body.
One good way to avoid splinters is to wear shoes both in the house and outside. There are many great options for summer besides bare feet, so keep feet healthy and happy by making goodchoices and avoiding splinters.
This patient information newsletter is courtesy of www.apma.org