A splinter is a thin piece of material (such as wood, glass, or metal) that gets embedded just below the top layer of your skin.
To remove a splinter, first 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 may need to use tweezers to pull out the splinter after you lift it.
After the splinter is out, wash the area with soap and water. Pat the area dry. (Don't rub.) Apply antibiotic ointment. Bandage the cut if it is likely to get dirty.
See your health care provider if there is inflammation or pus, or if the splinter is deeply embedded. Also, seek medical attention if the splinter is in your eye or close to it.
I'm Dr. Alan Greene and let's talk about splinters. How do you get them out? If the splinter is still sticking up above the skin, the best thing to do, if tweezers are available, is to get a pair of tweezers. Clean tweezers, you clean them with alcohol. And rather than messing around with your fingers where you may push the splinter beneath the surface, go right for the tweezers. Grasp the end of the splinter. And then here's the trick. You pull it in the same angle that the splinter went in. Often though the splinter is already gone beneath the surface of the skin. And if that's the case, the best way to get it out is usually to take a pin or a needle - to get that clean with alcohol - and then to gently get rid of the skin. Move aside the skin that's just above the tip of the splinter. Use the needle then to lift up the tip. And then often you use tweezers, just like we talked about before, to grasp and pull the angle that it went in. Either way though, however far the splinter went in, it's a smart idea to wash the area with soap and water once you're done. Because when the splinter goes in, it can bring bacteria that could set up an infection.
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Last reviewed on: 7/11/2019
Reviewed by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.