This article discusses how to remove a fishhook that is stuck in the skin.
Fishhook removal from skin
- Fishing accident
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:
Wire cutting method:
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 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
- 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.
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.
Last reviewed 1/1/2013 by 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.
- Call 911 for all medical emergencies.