How to Get a Splinter Out? Top 15 Ways to Remove a Splinter

how to get a splinter out

Splinters might be reasonably low-level in the list of serious injuries but they can easily bring tears to a man’s eyes or an end to the fun on a weekend jaunt.

Do splinters come out on their own? More often than not, splinters come out on their own naturally and in most cases, you do not need special medical attention for them. From time to time though, splinter are "stuck" under the skin and need some effort to be removed.

That said; you do need to know how to deal with their particular challenges correctly. Let us discuss everything y  need to know in order to remove splinters at home.

What Causes Splinters?

Warm sunny weather is often an invitation for us to shed our shoes and socks and run barefoot. Running or walking barefoot (both inside and outside the house) is a sure-fire invitation to splinters from wood, thorn, pines etc.

A splinter can also occur in the hands when working or handling wood or metal. In general. splinters can come from any broken or unpolished objects made from glass, wood, plastic, metal etc.

How to Remove a Splinter at Home: Important Things to Know

Small shards of metal, wood, tiny bits of plastic or glass etc. can be easily removed at home. For larger or deeply embedded splinters, it is best to seek the help of a doctor or podiatrist.

People with diabetes, elderly patients and young children should be especially careful when having a splinter; even a small one can easily grow into a serious infection. Deep or large splinters can get embedded into the subcutaneous soft tissues. Smaller splinters in the superficial tissue are easily removed at home especially when they are horizontal and easily palpated. 

In rare cases, deep splinters can get very close to important structures like nerves, tendons, blood vessels, or vital organs. It is best to seek immediate medical attention for them. If not completely removed, splinters can lead to inflammation, infection and even granuloma formation.

A splinter in or near the eye requires immediate emergency treatment from a qualified health professional! Wood, thorns, spines and other vegetative splinters can cause a greater inflammatory response compared to splinters of glass, metal, or plastic.

Splinters in Kids Hands and Feet

With the amount of exploring they do, toddlers and young kids are very likely to get a splinter at some point or the other while growing up. There are not many toddlers who will sit still long enough to let you remove the splinter with tweezers, let alone a needle!

But by all means, you can try home remedies to remove splinters before taking them to the doctor. Ensure sterilising the needles/tweezers in hot water, iodine or rubbing alcohol first before using them to remove the splinter.

Symptoms of Deeper Splinters

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Cellulitis
  • Abscess
  • Bursitis
  • Discoloration
  • Puncture wound
  • Wound that fails to heal
  • Pain associated with mass
  • Delayed tendon or nerve injury

As can be seen, splinters should not be neglected or overlooked. Let us discuss some easy ways and home remedies to get a splinter out.

How To Get A Splinter Out? – Effective Home Remedies and Methods for Removing a Splinter

1. How to Draw out a Splinter Using Tweezers/Needle Method

The best way to remove a splinter is with a pair of tweezers. Here are the steps:

  • Soak the injured area in warm water for 5-10 minutes. This will soften the skin and ring the splinters to the surface.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and dry them before handling a splinter.
  • Once the skin has softened, gently press the skin on either side of the splinter. This squeezing action will make it easy to extract the splinter as the pressure will bring the splinter to the surface.
  • Continue palpating, squeezing and pushing the splinter upwards. This should do the trick.
  • If not, use a clean, sterilised pair of tweezers to pull the pesky splinter out. You can add a few drops of iodine solution on the tweezers tips to sterilise them or clean them under boiling water. In the absence of tweezers, you can use a needle. Sterilise the needle point with a few drops of iodine or rubbing alcohol and gently pry the splinter out.
  • Use the needle to slightly push the skin open. Do not dig for the splinter; pry it out or use tweezers to pull it out gently.
  • If the splinter has now surfaced, pry it upwards and outwards with tweezers. Grasp the splinter tip firmly and pull it up gently but firmly.
  • Avoid breaking the splinter as this can make it difficult to extract. The part that remains inside can also get deeply embedded causing infections.
  • Pull the splinter out at the same angle in which it has entered.
  • Remember to wash your skin after the splinter is out.

The Medipoint Splinter Out Splinter Remover is a fast, effective and sterile method to get out a splinter and it's a great alternative to the tweezers/needle method.

Make sure you buy a set (it's very inexpensive) and keep it at home so it's always available when you need to take a splinter out.

Pros

  • It is better than a needle because unlike needle or tweezers, you do not need to sterilise them. They are “use and throw” disposable type tools that are a must-have in every first aid box.
  • The splinter remover is designed with a tri-bevel point that ensures quick and painless removal of splinters both superficial and deep. The sharp v-shaped tip is easy to use for prodding around the splinter.
  • Works very well on metal splinters.
  • Inexpensive - so you can buy and keep several around the house, workshop etc.
  • Must have at summer camps when kids are most likely to get splinters. It's Amazon's Choice and you can read the amazing reviews and order it here.

Cons

  • In some cases, you might still need tweezers to remove the splinter.
  • For very nasty thorns or cactus needles, the tool may not work.

3. How to Take out a Splinter with Scotch Tape

This is an easy way to get a splinter out in case it is not deeply buried in the skin. This easy splinter extraction method is safe enough for kids to use for splinter removal when adults are not present.

  • Press the Scotch tape firmly on the splinter.
  • Pull the tape right out.
  • This method, as stated above, works for removing superficial splinters easily.

4. Glue

If the scotch tape method does not draw a splinter out, you can use some white glue or wood glue to remove it. Wait until the glue dries then pull it right out. Simply peel the glue blob and the splinter will come out attached to it.

5. Soak the Affected Area in Hot Water

The simplest home remedy to get a splinter to come out is to soak the skin in hot water for as long as it takes to shrivel. Once the skin has shrivelled, the splinter will be pushed out to the skin’s surface. You can now use a sterilised needle or a pair of tweezers or simply your fingers to pull it out.  This method can only be used with adults.

6. How to Remove a Splinter with Epsom Salts

This is a useful remedy when someone has a stubborn splinter in the foot or hand:

  • Take a bowl filled with warm water. Add Epsom salts generously in it.
  • Soak the hand or foot with the splinter in the solution.
  • Epsom salts will shrink the swollen skin and extract the splinter to the surface of the skin.
  • As the wound reduces in size, the splinter will not only be pushed out; the salts will also soften then splinter.
  • You can now easily remove the splinter with tweezers, needle or your fingers.

7. Baking Soda to Remove Splinters in Toddlers

This is an easy and painless way to get a splinter out in toddlers/young children:

  • To a quarter teaspoon of baking soda, add a few drops of water to make a thick paste.
  • Wash your hands with water and soap.
  • Clean and dry the toddler’s skin where the splinter has pierced and entered.
  • To apply the baking soda paste to the splinter, apply it to the bandage and place the bandage on the splinter. Leave the bandage on overnight.
  • What the baking soda does is it causes the skin to swell up. This pushes the splinter upwards and outwards making it easy for removal.
  • Once the bandage is out, use a pair of tweezers to remove the splinter that will now be sticking out of the skin’s surface.
  • If the splinter is still embedded, leave the bandage on for 24 hours more, applying a fresh coat of soda paste again on it.
  • If the skin has turned red or inflamed, seek medical help.

8. Hydrogen Peroxide

This is another easy way to get a splinter out in young ones.

  • Saturate the affected area with hydrogen peroxide solution.
  • The bubbles of peroxide will most likely pry out the invading splinter gently yet effectively.
  • Once the splinter has surfaced, use a pair of tweezers to remove it.

Here is how to get a splinter out using doctor recommended method. Ichthamol cream is a black drawing salve.

Ichthammol Ointment Drawing Salve is a doctor approved and pharmacist recommended method to remove not only splinters but venom from bee stings, spider bites, plant irritations etc. This drawing salve for splinters is very effective and it's Amazon's No 1 Best Seller treatment.

It mainly contains ichthammol (ammonium bituminosulfonate), lanolin, and petrolatum and can be used for treating ingrown toenails as well.

  • Apply the ointment on the splinter. Do not rub or massage the skin.
  • Cover with gauze or bandage. Leave it on overnight.
  • Repeat application as needed until the splinter comes out.

Pros

  • Effective for treating many kinds of skin infections and not just splinters. See more details and order it here on Amazon.
  • Especially useful for diabetics and kids.
  • Does not smell

Cons

  • Does not work on ingrown hair.
  • It does not have the characteristic smell that ammonium bituminosulfonate is known to have.

10. Splinter Removal with Essential Oils

For very tiny splinters that you simply cannot get out with tweezers, use essential oils. Many essential oils have splinter sucker properties. These include:

  • Frankincense essential oil
  • Helichrysum essential oil
  • Tea tree essential oil
  • Myrrh essential oil
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Geranium essential oil

Soak a bandage, gauze or compress with any of the above oils and apply it on the splinter. Let it remain for several hours. Once the splinter is drawn out, use tweezers to pull them out gently. The best part about using essential oils to remove splinters is that they also clean up the wound and speed up healing.

11. Slippery Elm Poultice

Slippery elm poultice made with slippery elm powder can easily draw out stubborn splinters. Apply the poultice or bandage treated with slippery elm paste on the affected area. Leave the poultice on as long as possible. The splinter will come up to the surface. Remove it with a pair of tweezers.

12. Marshmallow Leaves

Crush fresh marshmallow leaves with a bit of nitre and apply to thorns or splinter for quick removal.

13. Vinegar

Soak the finger or foot in vinegar or apple cider vinegar for 10-15 minutes. This remedy loosens the splinter and draws it out. You can now use a pair of tweezers to pry them out.

14. Bread Poultice

This is an age-old remedy used since centuries by farm workers to draw out splinters, venom, infections, bites, glass, rock, pus, thorns etc obtained during work.

  • Soak a piece of bread in water. Wring out excess water. (You can also boil a piece of bread in milk for a few seconds and apply the blob on the splinter).
  • Place the wet bread piece on the affected area and tie it up with a bandage.
  • Leave the poultice on overnight.
  • It acts as a sponge to pull out debris, glass shards, metal pieces, wood splinters, thorns, cactus needles, etc. from the skin. In the morning, the offending object will have come out completely!

15. Activated Charcoal Poultice

Activated charcoal is known for its ability to draw out debris, toxins and all kinds of impurities. Make a paste of crushed charcoal pills using some water and apply to the affected area. Cover up with a bandage or gauze and leave it on overnight. The swelling, redness and irritation will reduce and the splinter will surface.

If these top 15 home remedies to remove a splinter do not show results or the skin becomes red, or inflamed or you have severe pain, contact a doctor. Deeply embedded foreign bodies may need surgical intervention.

The best way to avoid splinters is to use gloves when doing woodwork and wear socks and shoes both indoors and outdoors. Keep yourself healthy and happy by making safe choices and avoiding splinters!

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