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Soft Tissue Foreign Body in Children


A soft tissue foreign body

is an object that is stuck under your child's 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 child's skin
  • An open wound
  • Pain when you or your child touches the injured area
  • Redness and swelling
  • Bruising or bleeding

Seek care immediately if:

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

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

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

Treatment for a soft tissue foreign body:

A foreign body may dissolve or come out of your child's skin without treatment. It may take weeks or months for this to happen. Your child's healthcare provider will decide if the foreign body should be removed. The foreign body may not be removed if it could harm his blood vessels or nerves. Your child may need medicine to decrease pain and prevent infection such as tetanus. Tell his healthcare provider if he has had the tetanus vaccine or a tetanus booster within the last 5 years. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to give him this medicine safely.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give to your child and how often he should 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 your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Have your child elevate the injured area

above the level of his heart as often as he can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Help prop the injured area on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Elevate Leg (Child)

Apply ice

on your child's 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 his skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.

Care for your child's wound as directed:

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


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

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child may need to return in 48 hours to have his wound checked for infection. He 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.

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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.

Learn more about Soft Tissue Foreign Body in Children (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.