How kids get splinters might be a mystery, but getting them out safely doesn’t have to be. Most splinters can be easily removed at home. Sometimes the hardest part is to get the kids to sit still while you’re removing it!
The American Academy of Pediatrics has some tips on how to remove splinters at home and when it’s best to call your doctor if that splinter is too stubborn to get out easily, or if it’s causing a bigger problem, like an infection.
You’ll need a couple of household tools to help remove a splinter.
- Rubbing alcohol
- Antibiotic ointment
- Magnifying glass (optional)
How to remove a splinter at home
- Sterilize the needle and tweezers with rubbing alcohol.
- Wash the area around the splinter with soap and water, and then sterilize the skin surrounding the splinter with rubbing alcohol. If the splinter is made of wood, don’t soak the area in water. Soaking can cause the wood to swell and can make the splinter hard to remove.
- Find the large end of the splinter. If necessary, use the needle to expose it from the skin. Use a magnifying glass if the splinter is small or hard to see.
- Using the tweezers, grab the large end of the splinter and pull it out carefully, following the same path it took into the skin.
- If the end of the splinter breaks off while you’re removing it, expose the entire length of the splinter with the needle and gently nudge it out of the skin.
- Wash the area around the splinter again using soap and water and apply antibiotic ointment.
How to handle tiny splinters
Some splinters are really small. These are usually from plants or fiberglass and can be hard to remove because they’re fragile. If the splinter doesn’t hurt, then it will likely work its way out on its own. If the splinter does hurt, try using really sticky tape or wax hair remover to remove the splinter.
When to call the doctor
Most splinters can be handled at home. But, sometimes a splinter is embedded too deep or is underneath the fingernail. If you can’t get the entire splinter out, if your child complains that the pain gets worse after the splinter is removed, or if the region starts looking infected (redness, warm to the touch, swollen, pus, etc.), then it’s time to call your child’s doctor.
TapGenes Take Away: Most splinters can be handled at home. Grab a sterile needle, tweezers and antibiotic ointment to safely remove a splinter.
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