How to Get Glass Out of Your Foot in 4 Steps

Splinters are things that get stuck under the skin. Like a wooden splinter that you can get from touching a rough piece of wood, a glass splinter is a thin, sharp piece of glass that breaks the skin's surface. The glass piece will look like a sliver of glass, having broken off a larger chunk of glass. 

Glass pieces can be hard to see, so it’s not uncommon to get a glass splinter in areas where broken glass might be present. Common causes of getting glass stuck in your foot are being barefoot while cleaning up a broken glass object in the home or stepping on broken glass—such as from a broken glass bottle—while walking outside without shoes.

This article talks about how to remove a piece of glass from your foot yourself and when you might need to see a healthcare provider.

A barefooted person stepping on glass

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

Removing Glass From Your Foot

While getting glass in your foot can feel alarming, getting it out doesn’t need to be.

Just as easy as it is to accidentally step on glass and end up with some in your foot, pulling the glass out can be done quickly and safely at home with a few simple tools:

  • Soap and water
  • Tweezers
  • Needle (such as a sewing needle)

It is best to take the glass splinter out as soon as you notice it to make infection less likely and the removal process easier. Follow the first aid steps below to help yourself or someone else who has glass stuck in the foot.

Step 1: Sterilization

Before touching the foot with the glass splinter, you should wash your hands with soap and warm water. Then, wash the foot with warm soapy water. You can use a clean cloth or paper towel for that part.

Next, make sure your tweezers and needle are clean. To do so, bring a small amount of water to a boil, then dip the ends of the tweezers and needle into the boiling water. Then, wipe them off with an alcohol pad (like the ones found in a first aid kit) or a cotton ball. The main thing to keep in mind is not introducing an infection into the broken skin from dirty tools. Keep them clean!

Step 2: Preparation

Be ready to use the tweezers right after you’ve sterilized them. In other words, please don’t put them on the counter or floor as that can cause bacteria to come on them. If needed, put the needle or tweezers on a clean paper towel while you use the tweezers.

Step 3: Removal

If you can see the splinter poking out of the skin of the foot, then you should be able to get it out with tweezers. With the sterilized tweezers, grab the part of the splinter that is poking out. Pull the glass slowly and carefully at the same angle that the glass went into the foot. This is important because if you pull at a different angle, the glass can break.

If the splinter isn’t poking out of the skin—that is, the piece of glass is completely under the skin—then you will need to use the sterilized needle to get it out. Take the needle and gently scrape the skin that is covering the splinter until you see a part of the glass sticking out. Then, you can use tweezers to pull it out, as described above.

Step 4: Aftercare

Once the splinter is removed, wash the affected area with soap and warm water again to prevent infection. Dry the area with a clean cloth and then put a bandage over it to keep anything else from infecting the site.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

There are a few reasons you might need to see a healthcare provider for a glass splinter. If any of the following apply, medical attention may be necessary:

  • The glass is too deep and you are unable to get to it with tweezers and a needle. 
  • The skin around the splinter looks very inflamed, and you see redness, swelling, or pus. This may mean it is infected.
  • The splinter is under a toenail or fingernail and you can’t get to it with tweezers.
  • The splinter caused a lot of bleeding.

Before heading out to see a healthcare provider, put gauze on the wound and carefully wrap your foot with a clean bandage or cloth. This will help make sure the wound stays clean in transit.

Risks of Stepping on Glass

The main risk of stepping on glass is that the splinter causes an infection. Because a splinter breaks the surface of the skin, there is a potential that bacteria enter the wound. Similarly, if a splinter isn’t removed right away, the open wound poses a risk of infection. Therefore, it is best to get the splinter out as soon as possible and do so with sterilized tools.

Summary

A glass splinter in the foot is often caused by stepping on broken glass while barefoot. With a few simple tools, glass splinters can usually be taken care of at home. The main thing to keep in mind is to keep your tools, hands, and foot clean while pulling the splinter out.

A Word From Verywell

You can calmly and confidently treat a glass splinter in your foot using a few simple steps. But contact your healthcare provider if you cannot access the splinter with a tweezer or the skin around the splinter is inflamed. And remember to tread lightly and not walk barefoot when glass breaks!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What happens if you can’t get glass out of your foot?

    Sometimes the glass is too deep or is under a toenail, which makes it tricky to get out. If you are unable to get glass out of your foot, it may be time to see a healthcare provider. Urgent care is one option to get medical attention quickly.

  • Is it okay to leave a splinter in your foot?

    It may be okay to leave a splinter in your foot if it’s super tiny and isn’t too deep. The skin sheds, so it might come out on its own. A few reasons to not leave it in your foot are if the glass piece is big, causing pain, or the area around the splinter looks infected.

  • What are the potential dangers of stepping on glass?

    The main danger of stepping on glass is that it causes an infection. The skin is a protective barrier against bacteria. A splinter means that the skin is punctured, breaking the surface, and therefore the foot may be susceptible to infection. There is also the potential danger of bleeding a lot from the wound, though that is not likely to happen.



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  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine. First aid: splinters.