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Fishhook Injuries - Topic Overview

Even if you fish carefully, you may get a fishhook in your skin. A fishhook is a curved, sharp instrument placed on a lure or line to catch fish. Some fishhooks have a barb near the tip that keeps the fish on the hook. You can also use a barbless fishhook, which may reduce the chance of a fishhook injury.

Fishhook injuries often occur when you remove a slippery, flopping fish from your line. Injury may also occur when you are casting a line, when another person is 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, so it's important to know first aid measures.
  • A barb can't be removed using home treatment.
  • Bleeding camera.gif is severe or can't 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:
    • Numbness or tingling.
    • Pale, white, blue, or cold skin.
    • Decreased ability to move the area.
  • 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.

Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: April 22, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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