OCT 29, 2017 6:46 PM PDT

The Killer Splinter


Okay, so while dying from a splinter is extremely unlikely, those little buggers really can get under your skin. But just how does your body protect you when you get a shard stuck in your finger?

When a foreign object, in this case likely a small piece of wood, metal, or glass, enters your body, white blood cells will rush to the area to try to defend you. But with splinters, the cells usually can't break down the foreign shard, so instead, they will form a granuloma around the area, thus securing off that micro-region from infecting other parts of your body.

Your natural instinct when you get a splinter is to get out the tweezers and try to get it out. If the splinter comes from wood or a plant spine, this is likely the best bet, as leaving foreign organic material in your body could lead to greater inflammation and even infection. But if the splinter is glass, doctors say it is sometimes better to leave the splinter in, depending on how deep in it already is, so as not to cause more damage to the tissues. Of course, when in doubt, make sure to consult your doctor! Want to learn more? Watch the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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