Contributors: Marie Hunt and Dr. Emran from Simple Health Radio

On this episode of Simple Health Radio, Dr. Emran discusses splinters which are a foreign body that can turn into a serious situation if not taken care of properly.

A foreign body or object is a medical term for something that is in the human body but doesn’t belong there. They can get trapped in the airways, ears, nose, etc. A splinter is one that gets embedded in the skin. While wood is the most common, metal, glass, and plastic are all considered splinters. No matter the type of foreign body, it can cause irritation, infection, swelling, and pain. Therefore, all splinters must be removed.

It is natural to want to extract the splinter yourself. However, there can be parts of the splinter not visible to the eye. In one study, only about 4% of glass was visible for doctors in the emergency room using the correct tools. You can also underestimate the sharpness of the object and there can be multiple splinters. In many cases, the foreign object can break embedding further into the skin.

Metallic objects and sometimes glass can be located with x-rays. Using X-rays increases the visibility of objects 7-21%. Deeply embedded splinters may require special types of imaging such as ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.

Dr. Emran explains that deeply embedded splinters need to be treated aggressively. When you first arrive at the ER, probing may be necessary. In this process, the doctor will numb, then run a scalpel over the area to locate an object. In worst case scenarios, bleeding will occur and a specialist will be required.

Dr. Emran strongly recommends that if you experience a splinter to not squeeze or mess with it. Immediately, soak the wound in warm or lukewarm water first. If it doesn’t come to the surface, seek medical attention.

If you have any questions or concerns reach out to your primary doctor or Dr. Emran through one of his social media channels.




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If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately. Dr. Emran and Simple Health Radio do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, consults, or any other information that may be mentioned on this website or radio podcast.

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