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The Best Way to Remove a Splinter
Splinters are an unfortunate fact of life in childhood. When kids explore their environment by running around, crawling into tight spaces and touching everything, they often get splinters in their feet, knees and hands.

Here’s the basic way to take out a splinter:
  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Gently wash the skin around the splinter with soap and water, but don’t soak it because this can make the splinter swell and become more difficult to remove.

  • Get a sharp needle and a tweezers whose tongs close together tightly. Sterilize the needle and tweezers by running them through a flame or wiping with rubbing alcohol.

  • Make sure you have good lighting. It can also help to use magnifying glasses.

  • If the tip of the splinter is sticking out above the skin, use the tweezers to grab the tip as close to the skin as possible, and gently pull it out at the same angle that it entered. It’s easiest if you get a good grip on the splinter the first time.

  • If the tip of the splinter is not sticking out, use the needle to gently scrape away enough skin around the tip to grab it with the tweezers, and then pull it out at the same angle that it entered.

  • Wash the skin again with soap and water, and add a dab of triple antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection.
Here are some newer ways that may work in taking out splinters when the tip is sticking out above the skin:
  • Take a strong piece of adhesive tape (e.g., packing tape) and stick it down firmly over the splinter area. Then peel it back toward the direction from which the splinter entered.

  • Take some facial gel or wax depilatory (hair remover) and spread it in a patch over the splinter area. When it’s dry, peel it back toward the direction from which the splinter entered.
Some children cooperate easily with taking out splinters, and others have a hard time because they’re upset about the pain the splinter’s causing, or they fear the needle and tweezers.

Here are some tips for getting your child’s cooperation:
  • Wait until he’s no longer upset about getting the splinter.

  • Explain to your son that it can sometimes be a little scary to get a splinter, but you will help him be a big boy and brave like Daddy to get the splinter out and make his foot feel better. Show him on your own foot how you will use the tweezers and needle. Let him use the tweezers on a stuffed animal or on you, guiding his hand so he doesn’t hurt himself or you.

  • Try removing the splinter when he’s distracted by something else interesting, such as when mummy is reading him a book, while he’s watching television or during a bath.

  • Consider taking out the splinter while he’s asleep.
If you can’t get the splinter out, you can usually trust that it will work its way out on its own within a week. If your child continues to complain of pain from the splinter or you see signs of infection (i.e., redness, swelling or pus), be sure to call the doctor.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To prevent splinters in his feet, try to make sure your son wears shoes when he’s walking on rough wood floors, wood decks or wood mulch.