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  » First Aid  »  Foreign Bodies

  • Do not rub the eye.
  • Wash your hands carefully before touching the eye.
  • Pull the lower lid down gently so that its lining is visible; at the same time, have the person look up.
  • If the speck is on the surface of the lower lid, lift it off carefully with a slightly moistened cotton swab or the corner of a clean handkerchief or tissue.
  • If the speck is not on the lower lid, gently grasp the lashes of the upper lid between the thumb and forefinger and draw the upper lid out and down over the lower one. The resulting tears may flush out a particle adhering to the upper lid.
  • If the object has not drifted to the corner of the eye, lift the upper lid (as shown in figure 14.2) and have the person look down. If the object appears on the inner surface of the upper lid, carefully remove it with a moistened cotton swab or the corner of a clean handkerchief or tissue.
  • Flush the eye with lukewarm water or any ophthalmic irrigating solution. If tearing and pain persist, or if vision does not clear, tape a loosely fitting patch over the eye and see a doctor promptly, as there may be an injury such as corneal abrasion.


  • Do not attempt to remove any foreign object that is embedded in the eyeball; instead, cover both eyes with a sterile compress and take the person to an emergency room as quickly as possible.
  • If there is difficulty closing the eye because of the size of the foreign body embedded in the eye, protect the eye with a small paper cup placed over it. Tape the cup in place and cover the uninjured eye with a sterile compress. Take the person to an emergency room as soon as possible.

The protective structure of the outer ear prevents objects from easily entering its middle and inner parts. However, children (and some adults) often put foreign objects into the ear and occasionally bugs or other objects may accidentally enter.

  • Never attempt to remove a foreign object that has entered the ear canal by poking it with a matchstick, bobby pin, cotton swab, or similar probe. This action may push the object in farther or cause damage to the middle-ear structure.
  • A soft object that is not deeply embedded and is clearly visible may be withdrawn carefully with tweezers.
  • For all objects that cannot be dislodged by tilting the head to the side and shaking (not hitting), see a doctor or go to an emergency room promptly.
  • Put oil (mineral, vegetable, or baby oil) in the ear only if a live insect becomes lodged in the ear canal. In that case, filling the ear canal with oil will suffocate the insect. Removal by a doctor will then be feasible. If there is any question about material remaining in the ear, a doctor should see the person for a thorough exam.

Most foreign objects lodged in the nose are placed there by curious children or by adults who pack bits of cotton or other substances in their noses to stop bleeding. Sometimes a child will place an organic substance in a nostril and it will not be noticed until it releases an unpleasant smell.

  • Do not attempt to poke at an object in the nose with a toothpick, swab, or similar probe, which can drive it farther into the nose.
  • Do not allow the person to inhale forcefully through the nose. Have the person breathe out through the mouth.
  • Have the person gently blow his nose two times to see if that dislodges the object. Avoid repeated or very forceful nose-blowing.
  • If the object is visible at the entrance to the nose and can be safely reached with tweezers, try to remove it. Do not attempt this on a child who is thrashing and uncooperative.
  • If these attempts at removal do not succeed, take the person to an emergency room.
  • Any foreign body that has been in place for several hours or days should be removed by a doctor.