When kids need something they typically know who to go to. If they're hungry, maybe they'll call for Mom. Need a new video game, maybe Dad is the right one to see. Of course, when Dad is a Houston podiatrist, all foot problems automatically come to him!
Now, my kids are getting bigger every day. (As they tend to do.) And I travel quite a bit, making presentations at APMA meetings at at other podiatry conferences.) Especially when the kids were little, that meant my wife was on her own with the kids. A lot.
So, what happens when Dad's away or the kids are out of town? The picture you see is of my then-4-year-old (now almost 14!) son Jonah's foot. He was visiting his grandmother in Canada with my wife and our other two kids. Guess who couldn't take care of him? Instead, I had to share special splinter removal instructions. And I'll let you in on my tips, too!
Splinter Removal: Why it's a Houston Thing
Here in Houston, warm weather isn't limited to summer. And that means kids running around in bare feet much of the year. Along with all the other hazards, we see a lot of kids getting splinters from wood decks. Kids know as soon as they get the splinter...and the prospect of getting it out can get pretty scary!
Now, in some cases, splinter removal can be an easy, at-home effort. After all, not all splinters need to be seen by a doctor. In fact, most of the time, a splinter in the foot does not get deep into the skin at all.
If that's the case, I know you can get it out on your own. And here's what you need to do!
Shallow Splinter Removal
When a splinter is sitting close to the skin surface, start splinter removal by soaking the affected foot in warm water. Next, wash your hands and try gently massaging the skin around the splinter. This will help work it out of the skin. Then, once the tip is exposed, use tweezers to grab it. (Try to use brand-new ones. But, if that's not an option, clean the tweezers with soap and warm water before pulling the splinter.)
If you're successful, and you get rid of that splinter in foot, I'm impressed! Now, wash the skin around the opening, using soap and water. After, apply an antibiotic ointment to the skin for a few days, to make sure the infection doesn't develop. Soon, it will just be a distant memory.
What about a deep splinter in foot?
Not all splinters are easy to get out at home. Sometimes, the splinter in your child's foot is too deep. Other times, they're just too wiggly to let you try. Or, they move while you're in the middle of splinter removal, pushing the splinter deeper into the skin.And in some cases, the splinter isn't wood, but is a shard of glass or something else that's too dangerous to mess with on your own. If any of these are where you're at right now? Don't panic. We'll get that splinter out. But you'll need to see me, your foot doctor in Houston.
While it may feel silly to come in for a splinter, it's actually the smart decision. At Tanglewood Foot Specialists, Dr. Andrew Schneider understands that kids are afraid of going to the doctor. So, whether you're coming in for a splinter or for a possible foot fracture, I'm going to make it less scary for everyone.
How do we make it as comfortable as possible for your child? We talk directly to your child and never talk around him or her. That way, we can make sure that your child understands everything that is going on and is comfortable.
Now, if splinter removal does send you into the office? Here's what you can expect from your visit. Before I start removing the splinter, I may numb the area to maximize comfort. After the splinter's out, I'll check to make sure there's no wound resulting from the removal. If there is, I'll tell you how to keep the area clean. Then, we'll apply antibiotic cream to the area, and gently dress it to prevent infection. But if it took you a while to come in, and the splinter site shows signs of infection (like swelling, redness or pus?) At that point, I may need to prescribe additional antibiotic medications.
Splinter Removal: Speed is Key
If your child (or you) gets a splinter in the foot, it's important to get it out fast. Otherwise, the pressure of walking can push in deeper into the skin. And that can lead to pain and/or infection.
I believe that you'll be able to remove most splinters at home. But when you can't? Whether it's a splinter, ingrown toenail, plantar's wart, or any other foot or ankle pain, we look forward to seeing you in the office.
And, for those of you still wondering about Jonah's foot all those years ago? Well, my wife and her mother were able to get the splinter out. And Jonah has spent the years following happily running around once more. While this podiatrist Dad is working on managing his guilt when he can't be there to save the day!