Fishhook Injuries

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on January 31, 2022

Call 911 or seek immediate medical care if a fishhook is:

  • Embedded in the person’s eye or face
  • Deeply embedded in the skin

Do not remove the fishhook if:

Do not try to remove the fishhook if:

    • The fishhook is in or near an eye. See first aid measures.
    • The fishhook is in a joint, in a bone, or deep in a muscle.
    • You are concerned that removing the fishhook may damage nearby blood vessels or nerves.
    • The person who is injured is not calm and cannot help.
    • You are afraid to remove the fishhook.

For a Fishhook in or Near Eye:

1. Protect Eye From Further Injury

  • Do not try to remove fishhook or put pressure on eye.
  • Call for emergency medical help.
  • Place a paper cup over the eye and tape it in place. Be careful not to put pressure on the fishhook or eye.
  • If possible, cover the uninjured eye, too.

For Other Fishhook Injuries:

1. Remove Hook

If the hook is not near the eye or has not penetrated into a joint, bone, or muscle:

    • Cut any fishing line, fish, bait, or lure from the fishhook. 
    • Use ice or cold water for 2 to 3 minutes to numb the area.
    • If the barb of the fishhook has not entered the skin, pull the tip of the hook back out.
    • If the barb is embedded in the skin, first try the string-pull method.
    • If medical help is not available and the fishhook is deeply embedded in the skin, try the advance-and-cut method. Push the hook the rest of the way through the skin, snip off the barb with wire cutters, and remove the rest of the fishhook from where it entered the skin. If medical help is available, have a deeply embedded fishhook removed by a doctor or nurse.



2. Get Medical Help Immediately

  • See a doctor or go to a hospital emergency room.
  • The person may need a tetanus shot and pain reliever.

Show Sources


Subbarao, I. AMA Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care, Random House Reference, 2009.

Fermie, P. The Illustrated Practical Book of First Aid & Family Health, Lorenz Books, 2005.

American College of Emergency Physicians: "What to Do in a Medical Emergency: Cuts and Abrasions" and "What to do in a Medical Emergency: Puncture Wounds."

Cheshire Medical Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene (content by Healthwise): "Fishhook in an Eyelid or Near an Eye."

University of Michigan Health Center: "Removing a Fishhook." 


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