How to Remove a Splinter

Does your child panic when he gets a splinter? The good news is that you don't have to have a surgeon's steady hands to successful remove one. You just need to know what techniques will be the most successful for the situation at hand (or foot).

Splinter Removal Techniques

Here are some simple, but effective, ways to remove a splinter at home:

  • Soak the skin on the affected area in a bowl of warm water for several minutes. Sometimes this will be enough to soften the skin and help the foreign piece to come up to the surface. Then gently massage your child's skin to help move the piece out in the same spot where it entered in. A word of caution: don't soak a wood splinter, since this can make it worse.
  • Apply a piece of duct tape, a band aid, or even hair removal wax to the area of the skin where the splinter is. Let the sticky substance sit for a minute, then peel it off, hopefully taking the splinter out with it.
  • Numb the affected area thoroughly with ice or with baby teething ointment.  This will help to make it much less sensitive if you need to pull or prod at the spot.
  • Tweezers and/or a needle can be good splinter removal tools to use. Just be sure to sterilize them with rubbing alcohol first to remove any germs. Then if the splinter is close to the surface, you can use a needle to lift up the skin and pull the splinter out. For a deeper splinter with an end that's sticking out, tweezers may enable you to get a good enough grip to grab the exposed piece and pull it out at the angle it went in.

When All Else Fails

If none of these splinter removal techniques work, there's usually no need to panic. Most splinters will work themselves out on their own within a few days. In the meantime, carefully clean the area with hydrogen peroxide and apply an antibacterial ointment daily to prevent infection from setting in. Stay on the lookout for signs that your child's skin may be becoming infected. This can include redness and swelling at the splinter site, along with a red streak or puss. Sometimes a fever can also occur. If your child has any of these symptoms, see your pediatrician right away.

Sources: Foundation

Seattle Children's Hospital