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Fishhook removal

Fishhook removal from skin

 

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

Causes

 

Fishing accidents are the most common cause of fishhooks stuck in the skin.

 

Symptoms

 

A fishhook stuck in the skin can cause:

  • Pain
  • Localized swelling
  • Bleeding

 

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 ways to remove a hook that is superficially (not deeply) embedded just beneath the skin.

Fish line method:

  • First, wash your hands with soap and water or use a disinfecting solution. Then wash the skin surrounding the hook.
  • 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.
  • Holding onto the shaft, push the hook slightly downwards and inwards (away from the barb) so as to disengage the barb.
  • Holding this pressure constant to keep the barb disengaged, give a quick jerk on the fish line and the hook will pop out.
  • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Apply a loose, sterile dressing. DO NOT close the wound with tape and apply antibiotic ointment. Doing so can increase the chance of infection.
  • Watch the skin for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, pain, or drainage.

Wire cutting method:

  • First, wash your hands with soap and water or disinfecting solution. Then wash the skin surrounding the hook.
  • Apply gentle pressure along the curve of the fishhook while pulling on the hook.
  • If the tip of the hook lies near the surface of the skin, push the tip through the skin. Then cut it off just behind the barb with wire cutters. Remove the rest of the hook by pulling it back through the way it entered.
  • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Apply a loose sterile dressing. DO NOT close the wound with tape and apply antibiotic ointment. Doing so can increase the chance of infection.
  • Watch skin for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, pain, or drainage.

DO NOT use any of the two methods above, or any other method, if the hook is stuck deeply in the skin, or in a joint or tendon, or located in or near an eye or artery. Get medical help right away.

A fishhook in the eye is a medical emergency, and you should go to the nearest emergency room right away. The injured person should lie down with the head slightly raised. They should not move the eye and the eye should be protected from further injury.

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

The main advantage to getting medical help for any fishhook injury is that it can be removed under local anesthesia. This means before the hook is removed, the doctor numbs the area with medicine.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fishhook injury and your tetanus immunization is not up to date (or if you are unsure)
  • After the fishhook is removed, the area 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 tackle box.
  • Make sure you are up to date on your tetanus immunization (vaccine). You should get a booster shot every 10 years.

 

 

References

Otten EJ. Hunting and and fishing injuries. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 24.

Stone, DB, Scordino DJ. Foreign body removal. In: Roberts JR, ed. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014: chap 36.

 
  • Skin layers

    Skin layers - illustration

    The skin is the largest organ of the body. The skin and its derivatives (hair, nails, sweat and oil glands) make up the integumentary system. One of the main functions of the skin is protection. It protects the body from external factors such as bacteria, chemicals, and temperature. The skin contains secretions that can kill bacteria and the pigment melanin provides a chemical pigment defense against ultraviolet light that can damage skin cells. Another important function of the skin is body temperature regulation. When the skin is exposed to a cold temperature, the blood vessels in the dermis constrict. This allows the blood which is warm, to bypass the skin. The skin then becomes the temperature of the cold it is exposed to. Body heat is conserved since the blood vessels are not diverting heat to the skin anymore. Among its many functions the skin is an incredible organ always protecting the body from external agents.

    Skin layers

    illustration

    • Skin layers

      Skin layers - illustration

      The skin is the largest organ of the body. The skin and its derivatives (hair, nails, sweat and oil glands) make up the integumentary system. One of the main functions of the skin is protection. It protects the body from external factors such as bacteria, chemicals, and temperature. The skin contains secretions that can kill bacteria and the pigment melanin provides a chemical pigment defense against ultraviolet light that can damage skin cells. Another important function of the skin is body temperature regulation. When the skin is exposed to a cold temperature, the blood vessels in the dermis constrict. This allows the blood which is warm, to bypass the skin. The skin then becomes the temperature of the cold it is exposed to. Body heat is conserved since the blood vessels are not diverting heat to the skin anymore. Among its many functions the skin is an incredible organ always protecting the body from external agents.

      Skin layers

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Fishhook removal

           

             

            Review Date: 1/12/2015

            Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

            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. 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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