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Splinters and Slivers / When you need the help of a professional

 

Splinters and Slivers

Posted by Mark Hosko, MD in Health Information 14 Aug 2013

When thinking about the medical emergencies that we see here at Portland Urgent Care, the terms “splinter” or “sliver” may not be the emergencies that first come to mind.  While most splinters and slivers do not require emergency treatment, there are some cases when you do need to see a doctor or other health care professional to remove the object, to treat signs of infection or to get a tetanus booster.

 

Slivers tend to be quite tiny and can usually work themselves out of the skin.  To remove a tiny sliver of wood or metal, you can use a piece of sticky tape or even hair removal wax.  Afterward, cleanse the wound and leave it uncovered.

 

Splinters are larger pieces of wood or metal, but in most cases, you can remove even a big splinter yourself.  After cleaning the wound, sterilize a small needle and tweezers with rubbing alcohol and pull out the splinter.  If it is below the skin, opening the skin slightly may be required to grasp the splinter with the tweezers.  When it is completely removed, cleanse the area again and bandage it with an antibiotic ointment.

 

There are occasions when help might be needed to remove a splinter.  If you can’t remove the splinter completely, if it is lodged deep into the skin, if there is heavy bleeding from the wound, or if the splinter is under a fingernail or toenail, you will want to seek compassionate care from the experienced staff here at Portland Urgent Care.  Also, watch for signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, pain or pus, and get emergency care immediately if you see them.

 

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