Person getting splinter removed at local urgent care

How to get a splinter out safely: a step-by-step guide.

Whether it’s a piece of wood, a thorn, or even a tiny metal shard, splinters have a knack for finding their way under our skin. While small, they can cause discomfort and even infections if not handled properly.

With some knowledge and the right approach, you can say goodbye to pesky splinters and keep your skin healthy. Here is how to get a splinter out easily and safely.

How to get a splinter out safely

Dealing with a splinter may seem like a minor annoyance. Still, it's essential to handle it correctly to prevent potential complications. Follow these steps for safe and effective splinter removal.

1. Gather your supplies.

Before you start, gather these items: tweezers, a small needle, rubbing alcohol, and a magnifying glass if needed.

2. Wash your hands.

Begin by thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water. This helps prevent exposing the wound to bacteria.

3. Clean the area.

Use soap and water to clean the affected area gently. Pat it dry with a clean towel.

4. Inspect the splinter.

Examine the splinter carefully to determine its size, depth, and direction. A magnifying glass can be helpful for this step and while removing the splinter.

5. Use clean hardware.

Sterilize the tweezers’ tips and the needle with rubbing alcohol.

6. Remove the splinter.

If part of the splinter is sticking out, use the tweezers to gently grasp it as close to its entry point as possible. Pull the splinter out at the same angle it entered the skin.

If the entire splinter is embedded, use the needle to gently pierce the skin at one end of the splinter and push out part of it. With part of the splinter sticking out, use the tweezers to carefully remove it.

7. Clean the wound.

Clean the affected area with soap and water once the splinter is out, and apply an antiseptic ointment to reduce the risk of infection.

8. Cover the wound.

Cover the wound with a clean bandage to keep dirt out and prevent further irritation.

9. Monitor for infection.

Keep an eye on the wound over the next few days. Walk into your neighborhood CityMD for medical attention if you notice signs of infection like redness, swelling, or pus.

10. Consider a tetanus shot.

If the splinter came from a dirty or rusty object and it’s been more than five years since your last tetanus shot, consider getting a booster. CityMD offers tetanus boosters.


What happens to splinters that don't come out?

While it’s ideal to remove splinters promptly and safely, there are times when a splinter remains embedded despite our best efforts. So, what can happen when a splinter won't come out?

  • Infection risk. One of the main concerns with embedded splinters is the increased risk of infection. Splinters can introduce bacteria into the skin, which may lead to localized infections. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, warmth, and pus.
  • Inflammatory response. The body recognizes a splinter as a foreign object and mounts an immune response. This can lead to persistent inflammation, causing pain, tenderness, and even a small collection of pus called an abscess around the splinter.
  • Migration. In rare cases, splinters can migrate deeper into the skin or tissues. This is more likely with organic materials like wood or plant thorns, as the body's immune response can push the splinter farther in.
  • Granuloma formation. Sometimes, the body encloses the splinter with scar tissue, forming a granuloma. While this can reduce inflammation and discomfort, it doesn't resolve the issue and may require medical attention.
  • Risk of systemic infection. Extremely rare cases involve systemic infections. These occur when bacteria from the splinter enter the bloodstream, potentially leading to serious health complications.


Seek medical attention promptly if you suspect that a splinter remains in your skin or if you experience signs of infection or inflammation after attempting removal. Health care professionals at your local CityMD can assess the situation, use specialized tools, and prescribe antibiotics or other treatments to address infections.

Timely and proper care for embedded splinters is crucial to preventing potential complications. While most splinters are minor inconveniences, it's always better to err on the side of caution.


Foreign body removal at CityMD

Dealing with a stubborn splinter or any other foreign body lodged in your skin can be uncomfortable and a cause for concern. At CityMD, we understand the importance of swift and professional care to ensure your health and well-being.

Don't hesitate to visit your nearest CityMD urgent care location if you have concerns about foreign bodies, like splinters, in your skin. Trust in our compassionate and skilled team to ensure you receive the care you need promptly and effectively.

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Visit any CityMD urgent care location in your community today for an evaluation with one of our expert providers.