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Soft Tissue Foreign Body


A soft tissue foreign body

is an object that is stuck under your skin. Examples of foreign bodies include wood splinters, thorns, slivers of metal or glass, and gravel.

Common signs and symptoms:

  • A hard lump under your skin
  • An open wound
  • Pain when you touch the injured area
  • Redness and swelling
  • Bruising or bleeding

Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your stitches come apart.
  • You see red streaks on the skin near your wound.
  • You have bleeding that does not stop after 10 minutes of holding firm, direct pressure over the wound.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, and draining pus.
  • Your symptoms, such as pain, do not get better or get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for a soft tissue foreign body:

A foreign body may dissolve or come out of your skin without treatment. It may take weeks or months for this to happen. You may need a tetanus shot to prevent infection. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had the tetanus vaccine or a tetanus booster within the last 5 years. Your healthcare provider may numb the area and make a small incision. He will use tools to help remove the foreign body. He may flush your wound to prevent infection. You may need surgery if the foreign body cannot be found or removed with a small incision. You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


the injured area above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop the injured area on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Apply ice

on your wound for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.

Care for your wound as directed:

Your skin may feel stretched and sore after the foreign body is removed. This is normal and should get better within a few days. Keep your wound clean and dry. Do not get your wound wet. Do not change the bandage for 48 hours or as directed. You can change your bandages before 48 hours if they get wet or dirty. If your wound is packed, remove and change the packing as directed. Cover the area with a bandage as directed. Apply firm, steady pressure for 5 to 10 minutes if your wound bleeds. Use a clean gauze or towel to apply pressure.


Ask your healthcare provider when your wound can get wet. When he says it is okay, carefully wash around the wound with soap and water. Let soap and water run over your wound. Do not scrub your wound. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return in 48 hours to have your wound checked for infection. You may need x-ray, ultrasound, or CT pictures to make sure all of the foreign body has been removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.