A splinter in your foot is no fun. It can cause pain, especially when you put weight on the foot with the splinter. Of more concern, however, is that the splinter could have introduced bacteria or fungi that could cause infection.
If it’s near the surface of the skin or protruding from the skin, you can often remove the splinter on your own, safely. If it’s deeply embedded in your foot, consider seeking help from a medical professional.
Keep in mind, splinters can be of higher risk if you have a medical condition such as:
- lowered immunity
- diseased blood vessels
The Mayo Clinic recommends taking these steps to remove any foreign object, including glass, from any part of your body:
- Use soap and water to thoroughly wash your hands and the area around the splinter.
- Clean a pair of tweezers with rubbing alcohol and use them to remove the glass.
- If the splinter is below the surface of the skin, use rubbing alcohol to clean a sharp sewing needle. Gently lift or break the skin over the splinter with the sterilized needle. Lift the tip of the splinter out so you can grab it with the tweezers and pull it out.
- Once the glass is out, gently squeeze the area to allow blood to wash the germs out of the wound.
- Use soap and water to rewash the area and then apply antibiotic ointment to the wound.
You may need a magnifying glass to see the splinter. If you cannot see the shard of glass, consider a visit to your doctor to have them remove it.
Do not try to remove the splinter on your own if the splinter appears to be deeply embedded in your skin or the muscle of your foot. Trying to remove a deeply embedded piece of glass could cause more damage.
To prepare yourself for the trip to the doctor, follow these steps:
- Control the bleeding. If necessary, bring the edges of the wound together with firm pressure. This is best done when the injury is raised higher than the heart.
- Bandage the wound. Start with a piece of sterile gauze over the area with the splinter and then securely bind the wound with a bandage or clean cloth. Do not put too much pressure on the splinter.
Other signs and symptoms that you may need help from your doctor include:
- The splinter is causing severe pain.
- You’re uncomfortable trying to remove the glass.
- You’re unsuccessful in removing the glass.
- The area around the splinter shows signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, pus, or red streaks.
- You develop a fever.
What to expect at the doctors
Hopefully, your doctor will be able to quickly remove the splinter. In some cases, you may need more in-depth treatment:
- If the splinter is deep and has caused infection, your doctor may give you local anesthetic and surgically remove it.
- If the area is infected, your doctor may prescribe medication after the splinter has been removed to ensure the infection does not spread.
- If your last tetanus vaccination was more than 5 years ago, you may receive a tetanus booster.
Small, pain-free splinters located near the skin surface can slowly work their way out with normal shedding of the skin.
Also, the body might reject the glass splinter as a foreign body by forming a small pus-filled pimple. When that pimple bursts, the splinter may float out with the pus.
A glass splinter in your foot may work its way out by itself. But you can take steps to get it out to alleviate pain and lower the risk of infection.
In some cases, such as a deep or infected splinter, you may need to see a doctor for removal and medication.