Splinter Removal 101
Running around barefoot on a deck sounds super fun right? Well, yes, until your two year old starts screaming as he got what seems like a million splinters under his feet. That was my weekend fun!
I frequently see kids in the office for splinter removal this time of year. Well meaning parents have often tried to remove the splinter at home with no success, sometimes pushing the splinter further back. If you think you can grab it easily, go ahead and try, but I wouldn’t go fishing around in there endlessly as this can make the splinter a lot more difficult to remove. You can try numbing the skin with a bit of ice first to make it less scary to your child.
Try to remove the splinter ASAP. The longer you wait (especially on the sole of the foot), the harder it is to remove. Seeing a doc at day 3 or 4 isn’t likely to lead to successful removal.
If you want to give it a go, here are some (somewhat evidence based) techniques to splinter removal:
Start with some sterilized tweezers, cleaned with soap and water, alcohol or peroxide. This is best done if you can see the edge of the splinter and you think you can grab the end easy.
Cover the skin where the splinter is with a cotton ball or tissue soaked in hydrogen peroxide. The splinter may come to the surface. If not, at least the wound is now clean.
Make a thick paste of baking soda and water and apply to the splinter, under a bandage. Leave overnight. The splinter may be out in the morning. This technique works on the theoretical fact that baking soda can cause the skin to swell, thereby pushing the splinter out.
Put a piece of duct tape against the skin where the splinter is. It may be strong enough to adhere to the splinter and pull it out when you remove the tape. This will only work if the splinter edge is at the skin surface.
Break an egg and place the inside of the shell (the wet side) against the skin where the splinter is. The shell may allow the splinter to work its way out of the skin (I have no idea how).
This works great for splinters or thorns with small edges. Place a piece of pantyhose against the skin to snag the edge and lift them out.
Tomato, onion or potato
A slice of tomato or onion places against the skin may bring the splinter to the surface.
If you are successful in removing the splinter please clean the area with soap and water to prevent infection. Though small, this is an open wound and would benefit from simple wound care, covering for a day or two to prevent debris from entering and causing infection. Covering with a small amount of antibiotic ointment may help speed wound healing and prevent infection.
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