Object in the Skin: Care Instructions

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

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor told you how to care for your wound, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:
    • Wash the wound with clean 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 petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a non-stick bandage.
    • Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.
  • Your doctor may have used medicine to numb your skin. When it wears off, your pain may return. Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take 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 your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • After 2 or 3 days, if your swelling is gone, apply a heating pad set on low or a warm cloth to your wound area. Some doctors suggest that you go back and forth between hot and cold. Put a thin cloth between the heating pad and your skin.
  • It may help to prop up the affected part of your body on a pillow anytime you sit or lie down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Your wound may itch or feel irritated. A little redness and swelling is normal. Do not scratch or rub the wound.

When should you call for help?

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

  • The skin near the wound is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • You have 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.
  • You have trouble moving a limb near the wound.
  • You have 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 health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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