A splinter is a fragment of a larger object (especially wood), or a foreign body that penetrates or is purposely injected into a body. The foreign body must be lodged inside tissue to be considered a splinter.They’re annoying, and even a tiny sliver can be surprising painful. That’s why you want to remove it: Take it out swiftly, cleanly, and in one piece, which can reduce the risk of leaving any shards behind, says Dr. Amy Derick, a clinical instructor of dermatology at Northwestern University in Chicago.
Removing a stubborn splinter from your finger or foot is never fun, especially if it involves digging into your skin with a needle or tweezers. But if you use common household or food items around the house, you can actually remove splinters from your skin very easily and quite painlessly.
HOW TO REMOVE A SPLINTER?
Wondering what will remove a splinter? There are a few tried-and-true methods and tools to use. Try this step-by-step process for getting a splinter out at home:
Keep it clean
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. The splinter has created an opening in the skin, so you don’t want to introduce any infection-causing bacteria in the tiny wound.
Tape: One of the gentlest (and least scary to a small child) options is plain old cellophane tape. Simply tear off a small piece, press it gently over the splinter tip, and then pull off the tape in the direction that the splinter entered the skin. If the splinter isn’t lodged too deeply, it should stick to the tape and slide right out.
Glue: You can also use glue, such as white school glue, to remove a splinter. Just apply a layer of glue to the splinter and surrounding area.Make sure that the glue is thick enough to fully cover the splinter.Do not use instant glue. This may not come off of your skin and trap the splinter in your skin instead of removing it.You can also try using a wax hair remover or wax strips the same way that you would use glue.Wash and dry your hands and the area around your splinter before you begin.
Allow the glue dry. The glue must dry completely before you can remove it or it may not stick to the splinter. Leave the glue on your skin for about 30 minutes to an hour. Check it now and then to see if it is dry yet. When the glue is dry, it should not feel tacky or wet.
Peel away the glue. After you are certain that the glue is dry, grasp the edge of the glue and pull it in the direction that the splinter entered your skin. Pull slowly and evenly. As you pull at the glue over your splinter, the splinter should come out.
Dig for it:Sometimes a splinter will become completely embedded under the skin. In that case, sterilize a needle with alcohol and make a small hole in the skin where the tip of the splinter is. A magnifying glass can come in handy here. You might also flip on a video to distract your tot from the minor “surgery” you’re performing. Lodge the needle under the tip of the splinter to lift it up and make it accessible so that you can use tweezers to pull it out. (Teamwork makes this procedure even easier, so enlist your partner to handle the needle or the tweezers if possible.)
WHAT ABOUT ALTERNATIVE METHODS TO REMOVE A SPLINTER?
There are a number of other rumored methods that promise to draw out the splinter, like taping garlic/raisin/potato/onion to the splinter, or creating a paste out of baking soda and water and letting it dry overnight. All of these remedies require you to leave the splinter in for anywhere from a few hours to an entire day, which can be painful for your child and may increase the chance of infection. So if a splinter is too deep to remove yourself, call your pediatrician.
HOW TO MAKE A SPLINTER STOP HURTING?
Before removing the splinter, numb the area with an ice pack or ice cube. Once the splinter is removed, apply antibacterial ointment and a bandage.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR?
- The splinter is very large.
- You can’t get it out.
- It breaks off.
Watch for signs of infection. If you start to experience any signs of infection from the site on which you removed the splinter, see your doctor immediately. She can prescribe a course of treatment and remove and lingering bits of the splinter that you were not able to see. Signs of an infection include:
- Drainage from the site
- Throbbing at the injury site
- Redness or red streaks on the area
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