Fishhook removal
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Fishhook removal

Definition

This article discusses how to remove a fishhook that is stuck in the skin.

Alternative Names

Fishhook removal from skin

Causes

  • Fishing accident

Symptoms

First Aid

If the barb of the hook has not entered the skin, pull the tip of the hook out in the opposite direction it went in. Otherwise, you can use one of the following methods for removal of a hook that is superficially (not deeply) embedded just beneath the skin:

Fish line method:

  1. First, wash your hands with soap and water, or disinfecting solution, and then wash the area surrounding the hook.
  2. Put a loop of fish line through the bend of the fishhook so that a quick jerk can be applied and the hook can be pulled out directly in line with the shaft of the hook.
  3. Holding onto the shaft, push the hook slightly downwards and inwards (away from the barb) so as to disengage the barb.
  4. Holding this pressure constant to keep the barb disengaged, give a quick jerk on the fish line and the hook will pop out.
  5. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and apply a loose, sterile dressing.
  6. Watch the area for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, pain, or drainage.

Wire cutting method:

  1. First, wash your hands with soap and water, or disinfecting solution, and then wash the area surrounding the hook.
  2. After the skin is clean, apply gentle pressure along the curve of the fishhook while pulling on the hook.
  3. If the tip of the hook lies near the surface of the skin, push the tip through the skin, cut it off just behind the barb with wire cutters, and remove the remainder of the hook by pulling it back through the way it entered.
  4. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, and apply a loose sterile dressing.
  5. Watch area for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, pain, or drainage.

Do not use these methods or otherwise attempt to remove a fishhook that is deeply embedded in the skin, lodged within a joint or tendon, or located in or near an eye or artery. If you are at all unsure, it is best to seek medical attention immediately.

A fishhook in the eye is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate emergency medical care. The area should be shielded or otherwise secured to avoid further movement. The injured person should lie down with the head slightly raised. The eye should not be moved until medical care is obtained.

DO NOT

  • DO NOT try to remove fishhooks that are stuck in the eye, near an artery, or stuck very deeply in the skin or body.
  • DO NOT close the fishhook wound with tape and apply antibiotic ointment. Doing so can increase the chance of infection.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Seek immediate medical help if the fishhook is in the eye or located near an artery.

The main advantage to getting medical help for other fishhook injuries is that the fishhook can be removed under local anesthesia. That means the part of your body that is hurt is numbed with medicine before the fishhook is removed.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fishhook injury and your tetanus immunization is not up to date (or if you are unsure)
  • The area where you removed a fishhook starts to show signs of infection such as increasing redness, swelling, pain, or drainage

Prevention

  • Keep a safe distance between you and another person who is fishing (in particular, casting).
  • Keep electrician's pliers with a wire-cutting blade and disinfecting solution in your fishing tackle box.
  • Make sure you are up to date on your tetanus immunization (vaccine). You should receive a booster shot every 10 years.

References

Otten EJ, Mohler DG. Hunting and other weapons injuries. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 22.


Review Date: 1/5/2011
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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