Large objects embedded in a wound, or foreign objects near to a vulnerable site such as the eye, need special care and medical treatment. Smaller debris, such as shards of glass or splinters of wood, stuck into minor wounds can usually be successfully managed at home without further treatment.
First Aid For Removing splinters
- If the splinter is fully embedded in the skin clean the wound, cover gently and seek medical attention. If part of the splinter is out of the skin, you may try to remove it with tweezers.
- Pass the tweezers over a flame to clean them and reduce the risk of infection.
- Use the tweezers to grasp the end of the object and to gently pull it out at the same angle that it went in. If the splinter breaks off in the wound or is not easy to remove, treat it as you would a larger foreign body.
- Once removed, squeeze the wound to encourage a small bleed, clean the site with soap and water and gently cover with a plaster or dressing as appropriate.
- Splinters can carry infection into the body so check the site for any signs of infection over the coming days. Tetanus is a particular risk, especially if the splinter was obtained while gardening, so check the date of the person’s last tetanus immunisation and seek a booster if necessary.
While the injuries associated with an embedded fish hook may be relatively minor, they are particularly difficult to remove because of their barbed ends. Only try to remove one if medical help is not readily available, for example if you are on a boat.
When medical help is easy to access
- Cut the line as close to the hook as possible to prevent it catching on something and causing further damage.
- Pad around the hook until you can bandage over or around it without pushing it further in.
- Seek medical help to ensure there is no underlying damage to the tissues.
When medical help may take some time to arrive
If you can see the barb:
- Cut the line as close to the hook as possible.
- Cut the barb away and carefully remove the hook by its eye.
- Clean and cover the wound and elevate if it is on a limb.
- Check the wound for signs of infection over the coming days and check that the tetanus booster is up-to-date.
First Aid for Treating a larger embedded object
- Do not attempt to remove the object.
- Apply pressure to the wound by padding around the base of the object over the top of sterile gauze or a piece of clean material.
- Bandage over the padding to apply pressure withour moving the object.
- If the object is embedded in an arm or leg, elevation may help to reduce bleeding and pain.
- Seek medical help.
If the object is very long, provide additional support at its base to prevent it moving.
If you cannot see the barb:
- If you are able, push the hook quickly and firmly forward through the skin until the barb can be seen.
- Cut the barb away and then treat as outlined above.
If the barb cannot be easily removed, do not attempt to remove the hook – instead, treat as for a larger embedded object.