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First Aid and Emergencies

Fishhook Removal

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

In the excitement of fishing, sometimes fingers are hooked instead of fish. It is useful to know how to remove a fishhook, especially if you are far from medical help.

Home Treatment

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Remove the hook as follows:

  • Use ice, cold water, or hard pressure to provide temporary numbing.

    Removing a fishhook

  • Step A: Tie a piece of fishing line to the hook near the skin's surface.

  • Step B: Grasp the eye of the hook with one hand and press down about 0.3 cm (0.125 inch) to dis-engage the barb.

  • Step C: While still pressing the hook down (barb disengaged), jerk the line near the skin's surface so that the hook shaft leads the barb out of the skin.

  • If the fishhook is deeply embedded, another option is to push the hook the rest of the way through the skin, snip off the barb, and then pull the hook out the same way it entered the skin.

  • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap if possible. Treat it as a puncture wound. See Puncture Wounds.

  • Do not try to remove a fishhook from an eyeball. Seek medical care immediately.

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If the hook is in the eyeball.

  • If you cannot remove the hook.

  • If your skin was punctured by a fishhook and your tetanus shots are not up to date. See Immunizations. If you need a tetanus booster, you should have it within 2 days of being injured.

  • If signs of infection develop:

    • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or tenderness.

    • Heat or red streaks extending from the area.

    • Discharge of pus.

    • Fever of 37.8°C (100°F) or higher with no other cause.

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