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Hacks to remove a splinter from your child (with zero tears)

Trying to remove a splinter embedded in your child's skin can be daunting. Here's how to do it without the tantrums and tears.

Splinters are very common in children, especially if they spend a lot of time outside without shoes. Splinters, no matter how large or small, can be extremely painful and should be removed as soon as possible to avoid infection.

The majority of the time, splinters may be removed at home; however, before attempting to remove a splinter, it is critical to:

Thoroughly wash the area

Wash the area around the splinter gently with warm soapy water. Using a clean cloth, pat the area dry.

Examine the splinter carefully

If you have a magnifying glass, use it to closely scrutinise the splinter, so you know exactly where it is.

Make use of tweezers and a needle

Dip the tips of a sewing needle and a pair of tweezers in boiling water or wipe them with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to sterilise them.

If you can feel the splinter poking through the skin, do the following:

  • Using the tweezers, firmly grasp the splinter.
  • Pull the splinter out gently at the same angle it went in.
  • Keep in mind that if you pull too quickly or in the wrong direction, the splinter may break, leaving a fragment trapped behind the skin.

What if you can’t feel the end of the splinter?

If you can’t feel the end of the splinter poking through the skin, do the following:

  • Use the needle to carefully scrape away the flesh, exposing the end of the splinter.
  • Once the splinter has been revealed, use the tweezers to draw it out.

If you can’t find the splinter’s end, you may need to try another method of removal.

Use a drawing salve

Ichthammol ointment, often known as black drawing salve, is an extremely effective and non-invasive method of removing splinters. This ointment, which is available over the counter at most pharmacies, works by relaxing the skin around the splinter, allowing the body to evacuate the splinter spontaneously. The entire procedure normally takes around a day.

  • Apply a small amount of salve to the afflicted region.
  • Cover with a Band-Aid or two — avoid getting any of this ointment on your clothing or bedding as it may stain.
  • After 24 hours, remove the Band-Aid and check to see if the splinter has been drawn out of the skin.

Try using adhesive tape

Sticky tape will either work very well or not work at all to remove a splinter. Typically, if the splinter is extremely close to the skin’s surface (and not too lengthy), this approach will efficiently remove the splinter:

  • Apply a piece of sticky tape on the splinter’s location.
  • Remove the sticky tape in the opposite direction that the splinter entered.

Make a paste of baking soda and water

The baking soda procedure should only be used as a last resort because it might cause the skin to expand, making other extraction methods more difficult:

  • Make a paste using 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and water; the paste should be thick and not watery.
  • Cover the splinter area securely with a Band-Aid after applying the paste.
  • After 24 hours, remove the Band-Aid. The splinter could have gotten onto the band-aid or be protruding out of the skin.
  • Remove the splinter with a sterile pair of tweezers if it is visible emerging from the skin.
  • If the splinter remains embedded in the skin, add more baking soda paste and a fresh Band-Aid for another 24 hours.

When to see a doctor?

If you detect any of the following symptoms, you should consult a doctor:

  • The splinter is really deep, and even after repeated attempts, you can’t pull it out.
  • There is a lot of blood or pus at the splinter site.
  • The skin around the splinter is bright red, puffy, and hot to the touch.

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