How to Remove Glass Splinters

Splinter in Toe
Father removing a splinter from his son's foot. (Image: MarkPiovesan/iStock/Getty Images)

Splinter removal must be done with care and patience to avoid leaving pieces behind in a person’s skin. Fragments of splinters can lead to painful infections that may require professional medical attention. Glass splinters, one of the most common materials that can be wedged into the skin, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, are often tricky to remove because clear glass is hard to see.

Step 1

Wash your hands with soap and water before you remove the glass splinter.

Step 2

Sterilize a sewing needle or a pair of tweezers with rubbing alcohol. Tweezers that are tipped with a non-stick material may be especially effective for glass splinter removal, as glass is more slippery than wood or other foreign matters that may embed into the skin.

Step 3

Push aside any layer of skin that may be covering the glass shard, gently, with the needle or tweezers.

Step 4

Pull the piece of glass out of the skin with the needle or tweezers, working slowly and carefully so that you do not accidentally push the splinter further into the skin.

Step 5

Look at the de-splintered area with a magnifying glass to confirm that all of the glass has been removed. Clear glass may be difficult to locate, but will sometimes sparkle in the magnifying glass.

Step 6

Apply an antibiotic ointment to the skin. If the wound is large and in an area that may get dirty easily, cover with a bandage. Otherwise, the NIH states that exposure to the air helps the wound heal more quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Needle or tweezers

  • Magnifying glass

  • Antibiotic ointment

Tip

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, glass is not as inflammatory a material as other common sources of splinters such as wood or thorns. Though glass splinters should be attended to as soon as possible, they are less likely to cause as much inflammation or infection if delaying the splinter removal is necessary.

Seek professional medical attention if you cannot dislodge the entire glass splinter, or if the splinter is deeply embedded into the skin. Imagining equipment may be used to locate the splinter in this case.

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