Even if you fish carefully, you may get a fishhook in your skin. Fishhook injuries often occur when you remove a slippery, flopping fish from your line. Injury may also occur when you are casting a line, from another person casting a line, or if you walk barefoot near fishing gear. The chance of a fishhook injury increases if you are not familiar with fishing gear.
Most fishhook injuries puncture the skin of the face, scalp, fingers, back, or ears. Home treatment can help you remove a fishhook that is not too deep. It is important to clean the puncture wound well to help prevent infection.
A fishhook can cause other problems if it enters the eye, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones. A fishhook injury is more serious when:
- A fishhook is in or near an eye. Be sure to know first aid for a fishhook in or near the eye.
- A barb cannot be removed using home treatment.
- Bleeding is severe or cannot be stopped.
- The wound is big enough to need stitches.
- Blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, or bones are injured. Injuries to these areas may cause:
- Signs of infection develop, such as redness, swelling, or pus. A puncture from a fishhook is often dirty from marine bacteria, which increases the chance of a skin infection.
- Your tetanus immunization is not current.
Use the Check Your Symptoms section to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
First aid for fishhook injuries includes the following:
- Stop the bleeding . Wash your hands and put pressure on the wound for 15 minutes. If bleeding doesn't stop, keep putting pressure on the wound for another 15 minutes.
- Remove the fishhook. Cut the fishing line, apply ice to numb the area, and determine if the barb is in the skin.
- Clean the cut or puncture wound after the fishhook has been removed. Wash your hands and rinse the wound for 10 to 15 minutes with mild soap and water.
- Evaluate your need for stitches. If the wound is large, deep, or opens with movement, it probably needs stitches.
- Follow guidelines for bandaging the wound. Consider bandaging the wound if you need to protect it from getting dirty or irritated. Clean the wound well before bandaging it to reduce the risk of infection.
|Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
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Symptoms to Watch For During Home Treatment
Use the Check Your Symptoms section to evaluate your symptoms if any of the following occur during home treatment:
- Decreased ability to move the limb normally below the site of the fishhook injury develops.
- Numbness and tingling develops below the site of the injury.
- You cannot feel a pulse below the site of the injury.
- Pale, white, blue, or cold skin develops below the site of the injury.
- Symptoms of a skin infection develop, such as redness, swelling, or pus.
- Symptoms become more frequent or severe.
The following tips will help you reduce your chance of a fishhook injury:
- Fish with single hooks rather than multiple hooks.
- Consider using a barbless hook. It is safer for you and is better for the fish if you plan on releasing it.
- Wear shoes, a hat, and other protective clothing, such as eyeglasses or goggles, when fishing and when walking in areas where people fish.
- Look around before casting to make sure no one is behind you.
- When you fish, carry a commercial fishhook remover, a large Kelly clamp, or sharp, side-cutting pliers.
When you go fishing, be prepared for a fishhook injury. If you are prepared, you may be able to remove a fishhook, which may prevent a serious injury and decrease your risk of infection.
Preparing For Your Appointment
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
- When did you receive the fishhook injury?
- Did you attempt to remove the fishhook? If so, what methods did you try?
- When was your last tetanus shot?
- Do you have any health risks?
|Author||Jan Nissl, RN, BS|
|Editor||Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA|
|Associate Editor||Tracy Landauer|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Steven L. Schneider, MD - Family Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Last Updated||July 1, 2009|