How To Get A Splinter Out Of Your Foot The Right Way

So you’ve got a splinter stuck in your foot and despite trying with tweezers or other home first aid tactics, you can’t get it out. So, what can you do? Here’s the lowdown on splinters and when to seek help from our podiatrists. 

Do Splinters Need To Be Removed?

Splinters can be caused by a range of things – a prickle from a plant, a shard of glass, a wood splinter and more. As they are a ‘foreign’ object that pierces and enters the skin, aside from being very painful, they can also contain bacteria that can cause an infection if the splinter isn’t removed. This is why splinters do need to be removed from the skin, regardless of how shallow or deep they are. There are two ways to get the splinter out: try to do it yourself at home, or get help from your podiatrist. If you have diabetes, are prone to infections, have problems with sensation in your feet or have impairments when it comes to circulation or healing, we always recommend heading to your podiatrist if you can’t remove the splinter simply with tweezers. This is as part of the splinter may be left in the foot but you may not be able to detect it (and it can be very hard to see well when it comes to the bottoms of our feet!), or you may create a significant wound that may worsen when walking if your body is unable to effectively heal the area.  

Getting The Splinter Out Yourself

Given that part of the splinter is protruding from the skin, it may be simple to get it out yourself. Follow these hygiene and safety principles:
  • Wash your hands with an antibacterial wash before starting, and gently clean the area of your foot where the splinter is lodged
  • Disinfect any instruments you’re using like tweezers or a needle. You can do this with rubbing alcohol, iodine or boiling water, and then letting them dry and cool
  • Soak your foot in warm water for up to ten minutes if needed to help soften the skin
  • Start by gently pinching the skin around the splinter to give it an opportunity to come out naturally from being squeezed
  • If that fails, use the tweezers to pull the end of the splinter out. Make sure you are pulling at the same angle that the splinter has entered your foot, this will help prevent it from breaking
  • If the splinter is located just below the skin, you may choose to create an opening where the splinter is lodged so you can grasp hold of it. If doing this, be very careful not to dig for the splinter, this may push it down further. 
  • Once the splinter has been removed, clean and sanitise the area and protect it if needed

Getting Help With Your Splinter

While most splinters can be easily removed yourself, if you can’t get to it, it is better to have it removed than to leave it sitting in your foot. It can become very painful and may lead to an infection. As podiatrists, we often remove a range of foreign ‘bodies’ from the feet simply and easily. We then apply a sterile dressing to best help protect the foot and allow the area where the splinter was embedded to heal.  We recommend coming to see our podiatry team here in Remuera if:
  • You have trouble removing the splinter on your own
  • The splinter is deep, you were only able to partially remove it before it broke off, or the area is becoming very painful
  • You are getting signs of infection – redness, tenderness, swelling, clear/yellow discharge from the area
  • You have a ‘high-risk’ foot from conditions like diabetes

Auckland’s Leading Podiatrists

Our registered podiatrists are experienced in managing a range of foot problems – from splinters and other foreign bodies embedded in the feet, to treating corns or warts that were ‘disguised’ as splinters – or vice versa. We have a range of treatments available that are effective, safe and comfortable. We work extensively with children, often helping remove foreign bodies from the feet of kids who otherwise don’t want to be touched, are squeamish or are sensitive to pain. Book your appointment with the Perform Podiatry team by calling 09 523 2333 or book online here.