Foreign Object Under the Skin (Not Removed)

Very small particles that remain under the skin often don’t cause problems or need further treatment. But sometimes they can cause an infection. Sometimes they work their way to the surface on their own without any problems. If you see this happening, you can remove any particles with tweezers. Be careful not to dig up the skin and make things worse.

You may need to see a surgeon if the object is large and couldn't be removed. The surgeon can assess the injury and treat it. Sometimes a surgeon uses X-rays or ultrasound to guide them in removing the object.

Home care

Wound care

  • Keep the wound clean and dry.

  • If there's a dressing or bandage, change it when it gets wet or dirty. Otherwise, leave it on for the first 24 hours. Then change it once a day or as often as you were advised.

  • If stitches or staples were used, clean the wound every day:

    • After taking off the dressing, wash the area gently with soap and water.

    • Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to the cut. This will keep the wound clean and make it easier to remove the stitches. If it's oozing a lot, you can put a nonstick dressing over it. Then reapply the bandage or dressing as you were advised.

    • You can get it wet, just like when you clean it. This means you can shower as normal for the first 24 hours. But don't soak the area in water (no baths or swimming) until the stitches or staples are taken out.

  • If surgical tape or strips were used, keep the area clean and dry. If it becomes wet, blot it dry with a towel.

Medicine

  • You can take over-the-counter medicine for pain, unless you were given a different pain medicine to use. Talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease. Also talk with your provider first if you've ever had a stomach ulcer or digestive bleeding, or are taking blood-thinner medicines.

  • If you were given antibiotics, take them until they're used up. It's important to finish the antibiotics even if the wound looks better. This is to make sure the infection clears.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. Keep in mind the following:

  • Watch for any signs of infection, such as increasing pain, redness, swelling, or pus drainage. If this happens, don’t wait for your scheduled visit. See your provider sooner.

  • Stitches or staples are often taken out in 5 to 14 days. This varies depending on what part of your body they are on, and the type of wound. The provider will tell you how long they should be left in.

  • If surgical tape or strips were used, they're often left on for 7 to 10 days. You can remove them after that unless you were told otherwise. If you try to remove them and it's too difficult, soaking can help. If the edges of the cut pull apart, stop removing the tape. Follow up with your provider.

  • If X-rays were taken, you'll be told of new findings that may affect your care.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as advised by your provider

  • More pain in the wound

  • Redness, swelling, or pus coming from the wound, or streaking of redness up and away from the wound

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