Navigate Up

Full Library - A-Z Index


Print This Page

Fishhook removal

This article discusses how to remove a fishhook that is stuck in the skin.

Alternative Names

Fishhook removal from skin

Causes

  • Fishing accident

Symptoms

First Aid

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 and water, or disinfecting solution, and then wash the area surrounding the hook.
  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.
  6. Watch the area for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, pain, or drainage.

Wire cutting method:

  1. First, wash your hands with soap and water, or disinfecting solution, and then wash the area surrounding the hook.
  2. After the skin is clean, apply gentle pressure along the curve of the fishhook while pulling on the hook.
  3. 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.
  4. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, and apply a loose sterile dressing.
  5. Watch area for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, pain, or drainage.

Do not use these methods or otherwise attempt to remove a fishhook that is deeply embedded in the skin, 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 medical attention immediately.

A fishhook in the eye is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate emergency medical care. The area should be shielded or otherwise secured to avoid further movement. The injured person should lie down with the head slightly raised. The eye should not be moved until medical care is obtained.

Do Not

  • DO NOT try to remove fishhooks that are stuck in the eye, near an artery, or stuck very deeply in the skin or body.
  • DO NOT close the fishhook wound with tape and apply antibiotic ointment. Doing so can increase the chance of infection.

Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

Seek immediate medical help if the fishhook is in the eye or located near an artery.

The main advantage to getting medical help for other fishhook injuries is that the fishhook can be removed under local anesthesia. That means the part of your body that is hurt is numbed with medicine before the fishhook is removed.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fishhook injury and your tetanus immunization is not up to date (or if you are unsure)
  • The area where you removed a fishhook starts to show signs of infection such as increasing redness, swelling, pain, or drainage

Prevention

  • Keep a safe distance between you and another person who is fishing (in particular, casting).
  • Keep electrician's pliers with a wire-cutting blade and disinfecting solution in your fishing tackle box.
  • Make sure you are up to date on your tetanus immunization (vaccine). You should receive a booster shot every 10 years.

References

Otten EJ, Mohler DG. Hunting and Other Weapons Injuries. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 22.

Stone, DB, Levine, DB. Foreign Body Removal. In: Roberts JR,Hedges JR eds. Roberts: Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Saunders Elsevier; 2009: chap 36.

Updated: 1/1/2013

Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com