By Dr. James DiResta, DPM, MPH
November 01, 2021
Category: Foot Injury
Getting splinters in the feet is fairly common. Of course, some people wonder if they can simply leave a splinter in their foot and let it work itself out. Others may not know how to safely remove a splinter, which can cause more harm than good. A podiatrist can help you remove splinters from your feet, particularly in children who may be squeamish about having parents remove them.
Why Splinters Need to be Removed
Regardless of whether the splinter is wood, glass, or even a plant thorn, you must remove it from the foot as soon as possible. Why? Because these foreign objects also contain germs, which can lead to an infection if the splinter isn’t promptly and fully removed.
How to Remove a Splinter Yourself
You probably have all the tools you need at home to remove a splinter safely. Of course, it’s important to go over the basics of safe splinter removal. Here are tips for safely removing the splinter:
- Soak the foot in warm water for a few minutes to soften the skin
- Wash your hands thoroughly before removing the splinter
- Once the skin has softened in the water, see if you can squeeze the splinter out by simply applying pressure to both sides (like you would a pimple)
- If squeezing doesn’t work, you can use tweezers or a sewing needle to remove the foreign object (just make sure to disinfect these tools first with rubbing alcohol)
- If the splinter cannot be grabbed with tweezers, use the needle to create a small opening around the splinter to make it easier to grab
- Be gentle and careful when removing the splinter to avoid breaking it
When To See a Podiatrist
While a splinter often isn’t a big deal there will be situations in which turning to a podiatric physician will be the best option. You should turn to one if:
- You aren’t able to remove the splinter or foreign object yourself
- The area becomes red, tender, swollen, or contains pus (signs of infection)
- You feel like there’s a splinter but you can’t see it
- You have diabetes or nerve damage in your feet (do not try to remove a splinter yourself)
- The splinter is too deep or too painful
- Your child is too squeamish or won’t sit still so you can remove the splinter
If there is a foreign body in your foot or your child’s foot, or if there are symptoms of an infection present, it’s important that you turn to your podiatrist right away to have the splinter removed and the area properly treated.