A splinter is a thin piece of material (like 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 a 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.
Auerbach PS. Procedures. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Medicine for the Outdoors. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:444-445.
Stone DB, Svordino DJ. Foreign body removal. In: Roberts JR, ed. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 36.
Review Date 11/1/2015
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.