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How to remove fiberglass splinters from finger?

Fiberglass is a synthetic material that’s made of extremely fine fibers of glass. These fibers can pierce the outer layer of skin, causing pain and sometimes a rash.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), touching fiberglass shouldn’t result in long-term health effects.

Keep reading to learn how to safely remove fiberglass from your skin. We also include practical tips for working with fiberglass.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, if your skin has come in contact with fiberglass:

  • Wash the area with running water and mild soap. To help remove fibers, use a washcloth.
  • If fibers can be seen protruding from the skin, they can be removed by carefully putting tape on the area and then gently removing the tape. The fibers will stick to the tape and pull out of your skin.

What not to do

  • Don’t remove fibers from the skin using compressed air.
  • Don’t scratch or rub affected areas, as scratching or rubbing may push fibers into the skin.

Irritant contact dermatitis

If you skin comes into contact with fiberglass, it may cause an irritation known as fiberglass itch. If this irritation persists, see a doctor.

If your doctor feels that the exposure has resulted in contact dermatitis, they may recommend that you apply a topical steroid cream or ointment once or twice a day until the inflammation resolves.

Along with its irritating effects on the skin when touched, there are other possible health effects associated with handling fiberglass, such as:

  • eye irritation
  • nose and throat soreness
  • stomach irritation

Exposure to fiberglass can also aggravate chronic skin and respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis and asthma.

What about cancer?

In 2001, the International Agency for Research on Cancer updated its classification of glass wool (a form of fiberglass) from “possible carcinogenic to humans” to “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans.”

According to the Washington State Department of Health, deaths from lung disease — including lung cancer — in workers involved in the manufacture of glass wool aren’t consistently different from those in the U.S. general population.

When working with fiberglass, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene suggests the following:

  • Don’t directly touch materials that may contain fiberglass.
  • Wear a particulate respirator to protect lungs, throat, and nose.
  • Wear eye protection with side shields or consider goggles.
  • Wear gloves.
  • Wear loose-fitting, long-legged, and long-sleeved clothing.
  • Remove any clothing worn while working with fiberglass immediately following the work.
  • Wash clothing worn while working with fiberglass separately. According to the IDPH, after the exposed clothing has been washed, the washing machine should be rinsed thoroughly.
  • Clean exposed surfaces with a wet mop or a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Don’t stir up dust by dry sweeping or other activities.

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