If you step on glass, your foot is going to be in pain. But do you need to see your podiatrist? Let's explore this injury and how you should address the fall out.

It happens fast: you drop a glass, it shatters and, while you are trying to clean up, you step on a shard. Small or large, you have to get that glass out of your foot, but you’re not sure exactly how to proceed. Here’s your step-by-step guide to safely removing glass from your foot. Or how to care for the foot of a child or loved one who stepped on glass. 

First Things First: Get Out the Glass  

Because stepping on broken glass can be so painful, you may not think clearly after your accident. The first thing to do, then, is to get off your feet. Sit down where you can, to avoid putting more pressure on the injury. This step is important because, if you keep standing, you could push the glass deeper into your foot. Once you are somewhere safe, it's time to take stock of your situation. 

These are the questions to ask after you step on glass.

1. Is your foot bleeding?  2. How big is the cut?

If your first answer was yes, try and stop the bleeding with pressure. For a small cut, you can use a firm compress. Apply pressure and see if the bleeding stops. If you have a larger wound, or pressure doesn't work, stop and think. You might have to wrap your cut until you can see your doctor. 

Then, once the bleeding has stopped, or slowed, it will be tempting to try and get the glass out on your own. But you shouldn’t. Instead, move on to our next step to removing glass from your foot. Without causing harm.

Embedded Glass: Don't Remove It on Your Own

Stepping on glass can cause serious injury: you should see a podiatrist to make sure all shards have been removed

Like everything else, the internet has all sorts of tips for getting glass out of your foot.  Some people suggest soaking the cut in baking soda. Others say that honey or even vinegar might be helpful. If you think those suggestions sound crazy—you’re right!

At the end of the day, when glass cuts into your foot, it opens up your skin. And that increases your risk for a foot infection! That's why, the last thing you want to do is introduce a foreign substance into an open wound!

And guess what? These home remedies unlikely to help get glass out of your feet. But they are likely to lead to infection, acid burns or other complications. Still, that glass won’t come out on its own. So what’s your next step? 

See your Podiatrist for Safe and Sanitary Foot Injury Treatment

Here’s the thing about glass shards—even if you think you stepped on one large piece, you may be wrong. Because it'

s easy to miss the tiny slivers that slipped off that shard and deep under your skin.

Now, embedded shards may be invisible to your eyes. But that doesn’t mean they won’t cause further damage to your foot if they stay under your skin. 

For this reason, stepping on glass should definitely send you to your podiatrist’s office. Even if you are yourself a doctor, it’s basically impossible to examine the bottom your own foot. In reality, the human body isn’t designed to bend and twist that way. It's why I encourage my diabetic patients to get help with their daily foot exams. And it's why everyone who steps on glass should see the podiatrist.

You see, as your podiatrist, I can get up close and personal with the bottom of your foot. I have proper lighting and medical magnifying tools. And I can use them to make sure every last bit of glass gets out of your foot.

Then, if I find a piece of glass stuck in your foot, I have sharp, sterile tools in the office. And they can get the shard out without too much pain, or risk of infection.

Making it to Your Doctor’s Office After an Injury After you step on glass, your podiatrist may dress the cut to avoid infection

Of course, when you have glass in your foot, it can be tough to walk or drive yourself in to see your podiatrist. So what can you do if you can’t get in to see your doctor right away?  If you’re bleeding heavily, phone a friend or, if necessary, an ambulance, to get you into emergency care. 

If you have a little leeway, try soaking your affected foot in warm, salty water for five to 10 minutes. This will disinfect your wound prevent bacteria from entering the open cut.

After the soaking, do whatever you can to keep pressure off your affected foot. As I said before, walking on the cut could push glass deeper into your skin. Which will make it more difficult for your doctor to extract them later. This may mean limping, avoiding shoes, or even using crutches for a bit. Not one solution will work for everyone. Instead, you'll make a choice depending on the location of your cut and how long it takes to see your podiatrist. 

Wound Care After Glass Removal

Once all the glass has been safely removed, your doctor will likely clean the cut one more time. Depending on the size of the opening, he or she may suggest bandaging the area for safe healing. Now, all that’s left to do is follow your physician’s instructions. (It will be important to keep your cut clean so it can heal properly.) And, of course, don’t forget to keep a strong grip on your cup or plate the next time around!   

If you stepped on glass and you don't know how to get the glass out of your foot, contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider. We can offer an immediate appointment. In most cases, he will be able to get that glass out of your foot in the office. If the glass is too deep, you may need to go to the operating room for a minor surgery to remove the glass. But the surgery will be simple and the recovery should be easy. So don't hesitate to come in and we'll take care of you.



Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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