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Object in a Child's Skin: Care Instructions


Small objects (splinters) of wood, metal, glass, or plastic can become embedded in the skin. Thorns from roses and other plants also can prick or become stuck in the skin. Splinters can cause an infection if they are not removed.

Your doctor probably removed the object and cleaned your child's skin well. Your doctor may have prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection and given a tetanus shot if your child had not had one in the last 5 years or you do not know when the last tetanus shot was given. For a few days, your child may have pain and itching in the wound where the object was removed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If your doctor told you how to care for your child's wound, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:
    • Wash the wound with a mild soap and water 2 times a day. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
    • You may cover the wound with a thin layer of antibiotic ointment and a non-stick bandage.
    • Replace the bandage as needed.
  • Your doctor may have used medicine to numb your child's skin. When it wears off, the pain may return. Give your child an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not give your child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • After 2 or 3 days, if the swelling is gone, apply a warm to the wound area. Some doctors suggest that you go back and forth between hot and cold.
  • It may help to prop up the affected part of your child's body on a pillow anytime your child sits or lies down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of the heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • The wound may itch or feel irritated. A little redness and swelling is normal. Do not let your child scratch or rub the wound.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • The skin near the wound is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child feels tingling, weakness, or numbness in the area near the wound.
  • The wound starts to bleed, and blood soaks the bandage. Oozing small amounts of blood is normal.
  • Your child has trouble moving a limb near the wound.
  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the wound.
    • Pus draining from the wound.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.