You probably don't get as many splinters as you did when you were a kid. But they
can still zap you when you least expect it.
It might be tempting to ignore a splinter, especially if it doesn't hurt. But a
splinter can become infected, so you should try to get it out as soon as you notice
it. Removing a splinter right away means the skin won't have time to heal over so
the splinter will pull out more easily.
How Can I Remove a Splinter?
Here's how to remove a splinter:
Clean the area. Wash your hands, then wash the area surrounding
the splinter with soap and warm tap water.
Sterilize a needle and some tweezers. The best way to do this
is to immerse the ends of the needle and tweezers in boiling water or run boiling
water over them. Wipe them off with a clean cotton pad, cotton ball, or alcohol pad
Gently pull out the splinter. If the end of the splinter is still
poking out of your skin, you should be able to remove it using just tweezers. Be sure
the tweezers have a firm grip on the end of the splinter and pull slowly and gently
at the same angle as the splinter went into the skin. (Pulling too quickly or at the
wrong angle can break the splinter and make it harder to remove the part that remains
in your skin.) If there's no end to grab, use the sterilized needle to gently scrape
the skin away from the splinter until there's enough of an end to grab with the tweezers.
Clean the wound. Check to be sure all pieces of the splinter
came out. Then, wash the area with soap and warm water once more. (You can also dab
it with an alcohol pad, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide if you wish.) If the
opening left by the splinter is noticeable, it's a good idea to cover it with a bandage
to prevent infection.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Usually, splinters can be handled at home. But in some cases, you might have to
visit the doctor. See a doctor if:
The splinter seems to be too deep.
The wound is bleeding a lot.
You can't remove the splinter.
The area seems infected (red, puffy, warm to the touch, not healing, or containing
Can Splinters Be Prevented?
Not all splinters can be prevented. But you can help protect yourself with these
Wear shoes. It makes sense to wear sandals or flip-flops instead
of barefooting it over a rough wood boardwalk or deck. But it's also a good idea to
wear water shoes to protect your feet when diving off a dock or wading in water. Of
course wood's not the only thing that splinters. If you drop a glass or bottle (or
someone with you does), grab some slippers or shoes until the floor's been swept.
Work smart. If you're working with glass, metal, or wood (such
as chopping or sawing tree limbs), eye goggles are a must for protecting your vision.
It's also smart to wear gloves to protect your hands from any flying debris. Also,
wear gloves when gardening to protect your hands from thorns.