Everyone knows the feeling of a splinter in your finger. It’s painful, distracting, and with experience you quickly learn to get a closer look before you accidentally drive it in further. What if you can’t see it, however?
If you’re wondering ‘why does my finger feel like it has a splinter, when it doesn’t?’ then it is typically one of two things. It could simply be very small and require magnification to properly see, as this is not uncommon, or it could ‘finger paresthesia’, which is actually a common symptom indicative of another condition, disease, or disorder.
Today we’re going to address both possibilities in detail, so that you’ll have a better idea of your next steps to get rid of that ‘invisible splinter’ feeling so that you can get on with your life. Let’s talk about splinters – seen and unseen – and what you need to know!
Can You Have a Splinter and Not See it?
Yes, it is entirely possible to have a splinter and not see it. For instance, a very tiny sliver of wood or even a small cactus spine might well end up in your finger and be almost invisible to the naked eye.
As this is quite common, it’s good to take a closer look with a magnifying glass if you have one or even a cheap pair of reading glasses will do. Make sure that you do this next to a lamp or another bright light source and then look closely and carefully at the spot where it feels like you have a splinter.
While there are other reasons, such as finger paresthesia that can cause the same feeling, 9 out of 10 times it’s simply going to be a splinter that is too small for you to easily see.
How Do you Remove an Invisible Splinter?
Removing an ‘invisible splinter is tricky, but there are two ‘tried and true’ methods for accomplishing this. The first thing that you’ll want to is to make sure that you have strong lighting in the area and you’ll also need a needle and some tweezers, both of which have been disinfected with rubbing alcohol.
If the splinter has gone completely into your finger, then it might well still not be visible under a magnifying glass, but you will generally see the spot where it entered or even a micro-portion of the splinter might be visible.
Target this area with the needle, puncturing it right next to the surface area of the skin where it entered and then pinch it carefully with your tweezers and try to pull it slowly out.
You can also try an old Farmer’s Almanac method of making a paste with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, with water added to give it a proper consistency. Rub this paste onto your finger and loosely cover with a bandage and within 24 hours the mild swelling should push the splinter into view so that you can remove it.
What Happens if I Don’t Take out the Splinter?
According to doctors, leaving a splinter inside your body is definitely not a good idea. First off, your skin is your first layer of defense against infections, with tetanus being a good example of what can happen when the skin has been breached.
There is going to be bacteria on that splinter, after all, and since it’s bypassed the skin that bacteria will have a better chance of becoming an infection if the splinter is not quickly removed. Your body is also going to try to push the splinter out, as it will recognize that it’s not supposed to be there.
This may result in pockets of pus, needle-sharp pains, and might even result in a bump on the skin known as a granuloma – which is essentially a ‘shield’ of immune cells that are put in place to encase the splinter to help avoid infection in the area.
Waiting also makes eventual removal of the splinter more difficult, especially in a spot such as your finger which will be used when you pick up and handle everyday objects. With all of these nasty possibilities, it’s really best to drop what you are doing and immediately remove a splinter as soon as you notice it.
Finger Paresthesia: Why Does it Feel Like There is Something in my Finger?
If you’ve exhausted efforts to remove the splinter and have become convinced that there might not actually be one, another possibility for what you are feeling is ‘Finger Paresthesia’. Commonly referred to as ‘needles and pins’, it can sometimes produce a quick, sharp pain that’s identical to the feeling of a splinter.
This will typically be noticed when you haven’t handled anything recently that could produce a splinter, but after flexing your fingers you feel the sharp pain. This can be related to a number of issues, so it’s generally best to get your doctor involved for a quick checkup to help rule this out.
Most commonly, it’s just a matter of poor circulation, which could be caused by high blood pressure or even as a response to some medications, but it can also be a sign of other conditions or diseases, such as a cervical disc problem, trauma (shutting your finger in a door, for instance), or even a possible tumor.
Finger paresthesia is also quite common after a stroke and in a worst-case scenario, it could be a symptom of a neurological condition. With that in mind, if you’re positive that it’s not a splinter that is causing the pain, an appointment with your doctor is a good idea to determine the next steps and rule out any health conditions.
Some Closing Comments on Invisible Splinters
Today we’ve explored what you can do if you’ve got a splinter that you can’t see, as well as what you should do if you believe that a splinter is not involved at all. In most cases, thankfully, the splinter is actually there, it’s just tiny and hard to see.
When that happens, you can remove it with a needle or use some baking soda paste in order to render it visible and to simply remove it with some sterilized tweezers.
If these methods do not help, then visit your doctor to rule out Finger paresthesia and to determine an action plan to get rid of the pain so that you can get on with enjoying your life. Just don’t ignore the problem – splinter or no, this is something that you definitely want to deal with right NOW.
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