The “Ouch” Factor: What to Do About Splinters

The warm, sunny weather of summer is an invitation for us to shed our shoes and socks and run barefoot. But doing so can be risky since running or walking (both inside and outside) can lead to problems for your feet. Needles, broken glass, small tacks, hairs, or splinters of wood can be hidden in the carpets of your home and those are only the problems inside your house.

Outside, the obstacles can be even more varied and dangerous.

While small splinters can be removed at home, any large or deep splinters in the foot should be removed by your podiatric physician. Anyone with diabetes should be especially vigilant, since a small splinter can grow quickly into a serious infection.

To remove small splinters, clean tweezers with an alcohol wipe and wash your hands and the affected area thoroughly. Grasp the visible end of the splinter with the tweezers and pull gently. Most splinters will come out easily. If you have any trouble removing the splinter, contact your podiatric physician immediately. You can soak your foot prior to your appointment to soften the skin, but do not attempt to open the skin. Wipe the area with antiseptic and cover with a band aid, then head to a podiatric physician’s office.

Also, contact your doctor immediately if the area becomes red, swollen, or hot to the touch, either after you remove a splinter or if you cannot see any foreign body under the skin. These are all signs that you may have missed part of the splinter or have an infection, and your podiatric physician will need to do further treatment of the area. Whatever is embedded in your foot will determine how the podiatrist will treat you, but deeply embedded foreign bodies may even require a surgical procedure. 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!


About the Author

Zeeshan S. Husain, DPM

Zeeshan Husain, DPM, is the President-Elect of the Michigan Podiatric Medical Association and a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon at our locations in Macomb, Rochester, Chesterfield, Clinton Township, Fort Gratiot, East China Township, and Shelby Township, Michigan. His expertise is in foot and ankle reconstruction, trauma, sports medicine, and diabetic limb salvage and wound care.

Dr. Husain earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then continued his postgraduate medical training at the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine in North Chicago. He completed a three-year surgical residency at Beaumont Hospital, Wayne in Wayne, Michigan, as well as advanced training in Verona, Italy.


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