How to Remove a Splinter from the Body

Fact Checked

Splinters are defined as sharp, slender pieces, often of wood, metal, plastic, glass or even bones, broken off from a main body. When these foreign bodies embed themselves to the skin, whether partially or completely, it is often painful, but can be managed at home without medical intervention. However, splinters that are deeply embedded or wedged under a fingernail or toenail, should be removed my medics.

Having a splinter in your arm / hand can be painful.

Splinters usually penetrate the skin in the hand or foot, although it must embed itself within a tissue for a certain amount of time to be considered a splinter. Splinters slit through the skin, and sometimes even the muscles. And although it is not a medical emergency, splinters, nonetheless, have to be removed immediately to avoid an allergic reaction or infection, as they are often full of germs.

Splinters Causes

Splinters penetrate the body through direct contact, such as:

  • Stepping into foreign bodies or sliding forward
  • Plant thorns may wedge while gardening
  • Bones splinters may penetrate a butcher’s skin
  • Handling objects where small objects dislodge as friction is applied

Splinters Symptoms

A splinter embedded in the skin is quite obvious. However, there are times when it may be difficult to see, especially when they are tiny or glass. The other symptoms include:

  • Localized pain
  • Foreign object sensation
  • Sometimes, small flow of blood or no bleeding
  • In cases of an infection: pus discharge, red, swelling and warmth

Ways to Remove Splinters from the Body

There are a variety of ways to remove splinters from the body. However, before attempting to remove a splinter from any location in the body, rinse with warm water and gently soap the affected area. Gently pat dry using a paper towel. If available, use a magnifying glass to inspect the splinter. Do not apply pressure to the affected area to avoid further damages. After successfully removing the splinter/s using any of the methods, apply antiseptic solution

  • Tweezers
    • Sterilize the tip of tweezers using rubbing alcohol.
    • Under good lighting, gently pull the tip of the splinter to the direction it went in if it is sticking out.
    • Make sure not to grab any of the skin. If not possible, try another method.
    • Best for visible splinters that are sticking out
    • Needle
      • Sterilize the tip of the needle using rubbing alcohol.
      • Locate the entrance of the splinter and slightly stick in the needle.
      • Apply an upward pressure using the tip of the needle to open the skin.
      • Gently pull apart the skin and use tweezers to pull the sticking out end.
      • Best for visible splinters that are horizontal
      • Nail clipper or razor blade
        • Sterilize the sharp edges using rubbing alcohol.
        • Using the nail clipper or blade, clip away the excess skin above the splinter. No pain should be felt.
        • Gently pull apart the skin and use tweezers to pull the sticking out end.
        • Best for splinters buried in insensitive, thick skin
        • Tape
          • Apply tape (scotch or duct) over the splinter
          • Remove the tape opposite the direction of how the splinter entered.
          • Ichthammol ointment
            • Place ointment on the splinter and cover with band aid.
            • Remove band aid after one day and splinter is usually drawn into the band aid.
            • Baking soda
              • Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with enough warm water and apply to affected area.
              • Place band aid and wait 24 hours before removing with tweezers.
              • Best for tiny, undetectable splinters
              • White vinegar
                • Submerge the affected area in enough white vinegar for about thirty minutes.
                • Remove using sterilized tweezers.

Disclaimer: the methods mentioned above are merely tips and should not be substituted for medical advice or first aid training. The main purpose of this article is information. To know how to give proper treatment on how to remove splinters, enrol in workplace approved First Aid Training.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • All content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional