Thanks to the amazing diversity of the canine species, dog hair comes in various textures, from rough to curly to smooth. Running your hands over your dog’s coat is usually soothing but there are exceptions. In some circumstances, dog hair can be sharp enough to pierce human skin.
Keep reading to learn more about what happens when dog hair pierces the skin and what to do if you experience this condition. We’ll also give you some tips on how to avoid dog hair injuries.
Dog Hair Splinters: Tiny but Painful
Hair splinters are when dog fur (or any hair) pierces the skin.1 Soft, wet skin is the most vulnerable to hair splinters. People who work with hair, such as dog groomers, barbers, and hair stylists, are most at risk of developing hair splinters. Dog hair is the sharpest when it is freshly cut.
Human hair is the same way. Coarse, short, and thick hair is the most likely to cause this injury. Generally, dog hair pierces the skin on the feet or hands and can fully embed in the skin or remain partially sticking out.
What to Do If Dog Hair Pierces Your Skin
Like other types of splinters, dog hair should be removed as soon as possible to limit the possibility of infection or complications. Depending on how deep the splinter is, you can use a piece of tape to pull it out. If not, you’ll likely need tweezers, as you would for a wood splinter.
If the hair is lodged deep under your skin, you may need a sterilized needle to reach it. Once the splinter is gone, wash and dry the area before applying antibiotic ointment and a bandage to prevent infection. As we mentioned, dog hair splinters are usually found in the feet or hands. Talk to your doctor first if you get one near your eye or if the hair is too deep to remove.
Should You Worry If Dog Hair Pierces Your Skin?
Dog hair splinters are uncomfortable but generally not a cause for concern. However, like other splinters, they can become infected if not removed promptly. Two uncommon but more serious conditions can also occur when dog hair pierces the skin. Cutaneous pili migrans is when the hair splinter moves through your skin, leaving a dark line behind.
Interdigital pilonidal sinus, also called barber’s disease, occurs when dog hair pierces a part of the body that normally doesn’t have hair, like the bottom of your foot. An immune system reaction to the foreign hair results in an opening in your skin that can become infected.
If you suspect your dog hair splinter has led to one of these complications, consult your doctor.
Preventing Dog Hair Splinters
If you are a dog groomer or frequently handle dog hair, there are a few precautions you can take to help prevent splinters. Wearing fingerless gloves can protect much of your hand while still allowing you to work effectively. Wash your hands frequently and check for splinters regularly. Wear socks and closed-toe shoes at work.
At home, help prevent dog hair from piercing your skin by vacuuming up loose fur frequently and wearing shoes when walking on surfaces where a lot of dog hair is present. When your dog comes home from the groomer, be extra cautious when petting them while their hair is sharpest.
Dog hair can pierce the skin and leave a splinter like wood and other materials. People who frequently work with dogs and handle their hair, especially groomers, are most at risk of developing these splinters. Dog hair in the skin can be painful and should be removed quickly to help prevent complications. Talk to your doctor if you notice signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus.
- You may be interested in: International Pet Groomer Appreciation Day
Featured Image Credit: SKT Studio, Shutterstock