Fishhook removal from skin
This is removal of a fishhook that is embedded in the skin.
Except for fishhooks lodged in a victim’s eye or located near an artery, the main advantage in getting medical help is that the fishhook can be removed under a local anesthetic.
- Fishing accident
- Localized swelling
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.
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.
Wire cutting method:
1. First, wash your hands with soap. Then wash the area surrounding the embedded fishhook. After the skin is clean, apply gentle pressure along the curve of the fishhook while pulling on the hook.
2. 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.
3. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, and apply a loose sterile dressing.
Do not use these methods or otherwise attempt to remove a fishhook that is deeply embedded, 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 prompt medical attention.
A fishhook in the eye is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate emergency medical care. The hook should be shielded or otherwise secured to avoid further movement, and the victim should be instructed to lie down with the head slightly elevated, and avoid moving the eye until medical care is obtained.
- DO NOT attempt to remove fishhooks that are lodged in the eye or near an artery.
- DO NOT close the fishhook punctures with tape and apply antibiotic ointment, because sealing off the wound can increase the chance of infection.
Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if
- The fishhook is in the eye or located near an artery.
Call your doctor if:
- You sustained a fishhook injury and your tetanus immunization is not up to date (or if you are unsure).
- A wound where you removed a fishhook starts to show signs of infection (increasing redness, swelling, pain, or pus).
- Keep a safe distance between you and another person who is fishing (in particular, casting).
- Keep a pair of electrician’s pliers with a wire-cutting blade in your fishing tackle box.
- Be up to date on tetanus immunization (vaccine). A booster should be given every 10 years, to be safe.
by Arthur A. Poghosian, M.D.