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How to get glass pieces out of thumb?

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Apr 14th, 2006, 05:26 PM
  #1
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How to get glass pieces out of thumb?

Ok, this is remotely travel related, but I need to get my thumb in working order, so I could kayak in Alaska at the end of May. I know the people on this forum are amazingly knowledgeable, so please help!

Question: How to remove very tiny pieces of glass embedded underneath the skin?

Background: I cut the inside part of my thumb when a glass I was washing broke on me. Now the wound is all sealed up, but the area still feels lumpy and it hurts when I put pressure on it. My doctor thinks some tiny glass pieces are still stuck in there, and suggests that I soak my thumb in very hot water. I've done it a few times, but haven't seen any results. He says if that doesn't work I'd need micro-surgery--done under a microscope--but that could be a bit risky as it might damage the nerves in my thumb.

Anyone has experienced with this? And what's the best remedy?

Thanks.

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Apr 14th, 2006, 05:42 PM
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Hi JC, good grief, that is a problem!

I don't know if this will work but several times a day soak your water in hot water (as hot as you can handle). Buy a box of Epson Salts and put that in the water. I remember my dad doing that when he had a similar situation as you do except his problems was slivers. Best wishes..hope you can get this solved.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 05:46 PM
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Thanks, LoveItaly, for your quick response.

Do you know how the salt helps remove the glass debris? I've also heard from someone else about adding salt to the water, but my doctor only said water and didn't mention salt.

Thanks
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Apr 14th, 2006, 06:09 PM
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I'm not sure exactly how the Epsom salt works, but what it does is draw out toxins from your skin. It's a type of magnesium or something. If you take a whole bath with it added, it's very relaxing too!

Another thought I had was to soak your thumb in as hot of water as you can stand, for as long as you can, then wrap it very tightly with plastic or a bandage. If you leave it on there long enough, you'll get what I call 'raisin skin'. You might be able to then pick the glass out with a tweezers or something.

Good luck!

Heidi
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Apr 14th, 2006, 06:10 PM
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Yikes, JC! I recently sliced open my thumb on a broken mirror so I literally feel your pain! My husband says over time, depending on how deep the glass is inlaid, it will push out on its own. Of course you can always go to the doc and have it removed. Whatever you decide, good luck!
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Apr 14th, 2006, 09:04 PM
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I'm usually the first to chime in here with home remedies, but this is one time I think you really, really need MD care - and since you want to kayak soon, I would get it very soon so you have time to heal.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 09:26 PM
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Well JC did go to the doctor as he explained in his post. And the doctor told him to soak the thumb in hot water. The doctor said if he needs micro-surgery it could be risky as the surgery might damage the nerves in the thumb.

travel-addict I was interested in your explaination about using Epson Salts. My father was a Safety Supervisor for a large Oil Co. and consequently he always had good first aid knowledge. BTW, now that you mention it I do remember his using a tweezer to pull the splinters out once they came through the skin.

JC, I sure hope you get this problem solved. If the soaking doesn't take care of it is there any kind of MD Specialist you could make an appointment with that might be more knowledable about your problem?

Again, sure hope you get this solved without any damage to your thumb.

P.S. My father soaked his fingers about 6 times a day for a week if I recall.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 02:42 AM
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Actually I was guessing that OP SPOKE to an MD and I am a little curious about any MD who would say to use "very hot water". The emphasis of my p;ost was that in this case I thought MD intervention sooner was important since OP does not have much time for complications and healing.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 05:24 AM
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I think I would see another doctor. It seems to me that leaving the glass in might cause more damage to the nerves in the thumb than any microsurgery. Even if the surgery did do any damage, it would probably be only a superficial numbing. Not something that would interfere with the use of the thumb. If soaking it in hot water is supposed to bring it to the surface, it can't be enbedded very deeply. BUT, muscle action and movement/pressure could cause the piece to work itself down deeper.

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Apr 15th, 2006, 06:09 AM
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If surface is healed over, how would soaking do much of anything. Only way things get out is thru an opening - and soaking is not going to do that.

For many small foreign objects in skin (like splinters of wood, for example) the body eventually reacts by trying to wall it off (probably source of lumps) and sometimes by having an inflammatory response. None of this is good for a part of the body, like the thumb, that is important to daily function.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 09:17 AM
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On this thread on the other forum, I mentioned that I too had a splinter. I had to get up last night and dig it out
They do work their way up to the top sometimes, but they are so uncomfortable while you wait for that and they can get infected quickly.
Glass might be even more of a problem, go to a doctor.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 10:25 PM
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About three weeks ago I got the BIGGEST wood splinter from my floor through the bottom of my heel. It went in my arch area and nearly came out the back of my foot. OMG. Anyhoo -- went to the ER that night, a Friday. On Monday I saw a surgeon to talk about removing any remaining spliters of wood. He said that any surgery would do more damage to my foot than the splinter. If there were remaining pieces in the foot, they would work their way out.

This is all to say, I think if JC98 seeks a second opinion, it will be the same. Seems like it's best to wait out this kind of injury and see how the body reacts.

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Apr 16th, 2006, 05:40 AM
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I've replied to this on the Europe forum.

Repeat, Magnesium Sulphate paste (which is cheap and easily available from any pharmacy in the UK - don't know about in the US) which my grandmother used to remove splinters, thorns, thistle prickles, and bring boils and carbuncles and whitlows to a head.

And the homeopathic remedy SILICA which can help to expel foreign bodies such as splinters, metal filings and bits of glass. It can also help in cases of extreme constipation! If in doubt fo a google search using the words 'homeopathy silica'. But DO NOT use if you have any metal pins or plates in your body.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 05:47 AM
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I remember my mother and the school nurse using some kind of black salve (I can't reemember the name) which drew splinters and the like to the surface so they could be removed.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 07:20 AM
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Someone put this under another thread and I do beieve this is the salve I was thinking of:

"You're probably thinking of Ichthammol salve. It is black, gooey, and smells like tar. It is a miracle "drug" in my opinion. I've had festering infections with deep rooted splinters, and one night of Ichtammol pulled it all out."
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Apr 16th, 2006, 10:11 AM
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This definitely is not intended as medical advice, and you probably should see your MD, but here's another vote for Ichthammol ointment, a popular remedy from the past. It's available OTC.

When I was an undergrad, I worked in a resort hotel salad pantry during the summers and often got bits of metal embedded under my fingernails (ouch) from the scrubber we used at the sink. I'd soak the affected nail in warm water and apply the black tarry goo. The offending piece of metal was often drawn out by the next day.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 10:27 AM
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JC98, I worry about your thumb but only because you got your doctor's opinion and you are looking for remedies from people on this board who you don't know. Maybe some of them have a medical background but it wouldn't be ethical for them to give you diagnosis and solutions on this board. Are you really ready to try all suggested approaches? Then if you get infection or something goes wrong you are probably going to go back to your doctor. My suggestion is to listen to your doctor or go with unknown witchcraft remedies. Two extremes, which one are you going to chose?
Tomorrow is the last day to submit your taxes, are you going to ask people on this board for suggestions how to lower your taxes?
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Apr 16th, 2006, 11:55 AM
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While I do generally believe the level of advice here on Fodor's borders brilliance, this one needs a professional opinion.

Ask more questions if you are not satisfied with what your doc has told you. Like how is that glass supposed to get out thru healed-over skin in the soaking process? Have a consultation appointment with a micro surgeon rather than your GP, if you are still not satisfied and the situation remedied.
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Apr 17th, 2006, 12:11 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for your sincere concerns and advice. Although people here on this forum may not be medical experts, I do believe in collective wisdom based on people's own personal experiences. In a way, our modern medicine is a result of a bunch of trials and errors anyhow. What works for you may work for me too.

Here's an update: I did try to soak my thumb in very hot water and amazingly enough 2 tiny specks of glass came to the surface and I nudged them out using a tweazer.

The area still feels bumpy, so I'll try to soak my thumb again. It's just that the rest of my thumb can't take the heat very well. Let me try wrapping the rest of the thumb up in some material to prevent it from getting scalded by the hot water.

Thanks all, again!

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Apr 17th, 2006, 01:11 PM
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Use sterilized needle to open area and then press duct tape over and slowly pull it away from skin.
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