Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is it okay if I cannot remove a splinter in my hand?"
While I was sweeping the floor at my job the other night, I got a small splinter in the palm of my hand. I can?t get it out. Is this okay? Will it come out on its own? What if it doesn?t come out?
Sorry to hear about your splinter. Most splinters come out on their own in a week or two, so I want you to keep that in mind as I give you some more information. Before you attempt (or even try to attempt) to remove a splinter you must first take a couple things into account. First is the location of the splinter. Obviously hands/fingers are the most common, however splinters can happen relatively frequently in feet as well, and they can be considerably harder to remove from the skin skin of your heel (or the palm of your hand in your case). This is common sense, but splinters (aka foreign bodies) that are in sensitive locations (like the eyes) should definitely be left for physicians to manage. In addition to location, the actual material of the foreign body (wood, glass, etc) may affect whether, or how you attempt to remove it. Lastly is size and how deep it penetrated the skin. Large splinters that are easily grasped with tweezers can be removed quickly without problem. If it is large and not easily removed, then you should see a physician. The foreign body itself was not likely sterile, and your skin has bacteria on it normally that can get pushed down deeper and cause an infection. Even very small splinters can cause local inflammation and a small infection, but most do not require antibiotics. It is important to watch for erythema (redness), swelling, pain, or purulence coming from the splinter site all of which can be signs that it has become infected. However it you can't get it out, and it's relatively small, try to keep the area clean and it will likely work its way out over the next week or two. Hope this helps, and again - please speak to your physician for more information about your specific case.
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