The “Ouch” Factor: What to Do about Splinters and Foreign Objects

The warm, sunny weather of summer invites us to shed our shoes and socks and run barefoot. However, this can be risky because we might get a splinter running or walking barefoot, whether we are inside or outside.

When you have a splinter in your foot, you may feel pain or discomfort and the sensation that something is embedded in your skin. Although wood splinters are most common, tiny bits of plastic, shards of metal or even broken glass can penetrate an unprotected foot.

While you can usually remove small splinters at home, a podiatric physician should remove any large or deep splinters in your foot. Anyone with diabetes should be especially vigilant, because a small splinter can grow quickly into a serious infection.

Follow these steps to safely remove a splinter from your foot:

1. Start by soaking your foot in warm water to soften the skin.

2. Wash your hands, and gently clean the area of your foot in which the splinter is lodged.

3. Once the skin is soft, try to squeeze out the splinter by putting your fingers on either side of the splinter and pinching gently.

4. If the splinter wont come out by squeezing, disinfect a pair of tweezers and a needle with rubbing alcohol, iodine, or boiling water, then let them dry. If the splinter is still sticking out of the skin, use the tweezers to grasp the end and pull gently but firmly (You want to avoid breaking the splinter, leaving the tail end in the body). To do this, pull the splinter out at the same angle that it entered the body. Most splinters will come out easily.

5. If you cant grasp the splinter with the tweezers, use the needle to slightly open the skin where the splinter is lodged. Grasp the end of the splinter with the tweezers and pull firmly. Dont dig for the splinter.

6. Remember to gently wash your foot once youre done.

Contact a Dr. Bowman if (1) youre having trouble reaching the splinter, (2) you are making the wound worse, (3) the area becomes red, swollen, or hot to the touch, either after you remove the splinter, or (4) you cannot see any foreign body under the skin. Dr. Bowman will determine how to treat you based upon whatever is embedded in your foot. Deeply embedded foreign bodies may require a surgical procedure. Sometimes a local anesthetic is needed to completely remove a foreign body.

One good way to avoid splinters is to wear shoes both in the house and outside. There are many great options for summer besides bare feet, so keep feet healthy and happy by making good choices and avoiding splinters.

Any Questions or should you need treatment contact Dr. Bowman at 713-467-8886 or

Category: Foot Health

Tags: Barefoot, Foot Infection, Foot Injuries, Splinter, Splinter Removal