nail + splinter = ouch
April 21, 2005 1:39 PM   Subscribe

How do you get a splinter out from under a fingernail?

I have a small but painful splinter that is wedged under my middle fingernail. Its been there about a week now. I've trimmed the fingernail about as far back as I can, and tried digging around with various instruments but have gotten nowhere. Anything I can do? Its no emergency but it does hurt.
posted by googly to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
Try warming your hand under some hot water and easing it out by massaging the tip of your fingernail away from your nail. It's worked for me before.
posted by MeetMegan at 1:49 PM on April 21, 2005

Wee forceps? They are cheap and all kinds of handy.
posted by Capn at 1:51 PM on April 21, 2005

It's not an emergency now, but it could turn into one if it got infected. Try soaking your hand/finger in hot water with some epsom salts added, then recruit a friend with a magnifying glass to take it out.
posted by jeremias at 2:11 PM on April 21, 2005

Get some kind of OTC local anaesthetic, if you're squeamish about digging in there with a tweezers. Orajel is one brand name that's for gum soreness, but I imagine it would dull the area of the splinter enough to get it out.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:21 PM on April 21, 2005

You could pick up a pair of tweezers with very very pointy thin ends, almost like they would be called "needlenose". Tweezerman makes some like this. I find sometimes that switching tools can make a huge difference with yucky splinters.
posted by bcwinters at 2:48 PM on April 21, 2005

I just bought one of these for exactly this problem. Note the manly road-sign-yellow color.
posted by MrZero at 2:50 PM on April 21, 2005

On preview, what bcwinters said.
posted by MrZero at 2:50 PM on April 21, 2005

Heh, thanks MrZero, I was too lazy to look for a link!
posted by bcwinters at 3:14 PM on April 21, 2005

I would recommend going to the doctor. This happened to me once and while the doctor was removing the splinter with a surgical knife he noticed I was way too tense and, long story short, nipped a possible life-threatening medical problem in the bud.
posted by haqspan at 3:25 PM on April 21, 2005

Sewing needles work just fine, too. Instead of spearing the end of the splinter with the needle's point, use the side of the point to press the splinter against the underside of your fingernail, then drag it outward.
posted by pmbuko at 3:36 PM on April 21, 2005

The tweezers on a Swiss Army knife are very thin and perfect for getting into teeny places like that.
posted by stefanie at 4:22 PM on April 21, 2005

Thanks for the tips everyone! I'll try the hot water and the needle first and then see if I can locate some better tweezers.

And please don't quote me out of context on that.
posted by googly at 4:33 PM on April 21, 2005

I had one wedged way under the fingernail, and it had gotten slightly infected - the doctor had to slice the fingernail, dig it out, and coat the entire nailbed with anti-infection stuff. I'd already had a tetanus shot, but if I hadn't, he would have wanted me to get one. As long as you know what it is, and that it is not infected, keep trying. If the entire thing gets worse, one of those medical clinics can dig it out for you.
posted by fionab at 7:26 PM on April 21, 2005

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