5 Methods to Painlessly Remove a Splinter

Splinters can be a literal pain. Many of them work their own way out, but not all. We’ll look at several safe ways to remove splinters using tape, glue, peroxide and other tools.

Tweezers for removing splinters on white surface


These techniques work on small splinters that are embedded in the skin’s surface and can be treated at home without any specialized equipment.

If you can reach a splinter with a pair of tweezers, that’s a great way to get it out. But what if it’s not sticking up far enough above the skin to get hold of it?

Some people recommend digging in after it with a needle. Even if you make sure the needle it sterilized with boiling water and alcohol to prevent infection, a slip can give you a puncture wound which isn’t pleasant.

Does it really need to be removed?

Splinters work their way out of your skin over time – usually a day or so. Sometimes it’s just as well to do nothing. The exception would be if it’s causing pain.

Should You Remove a Splinter At Home?

Generally, yes. In rare cases, splinters may need attention from a pro. Take a moment to look at your splinter’s size, depth, and location on your skin.

When you get a splinter, take a look at it with a magnifying glass. Focus on the surface of the skin, right where the splinter has entered the skin.

If the splinter looks large or deeply embedded, or if it is near sensitive areas like the eye, it is best to seek medical assistance for safe removal.

Otherwise, it’s safe to remove it yourself, or ask someone else to help you with it.

Wash Your Hands and Cleanse The Area

If you’ve decided this splinter removal is a DIY job, the last thing you want is for it to become infected and get further embedded in the skin.

The first thing to do is thoroughly wash your hands. That’s twenty seconds of sudsy soap, paying special attention to fingertips.

Next, cleanse the area with soap and water around the splinter, gently patting it dry with a clean towel. 

Sterilize Tweezers or Needles for Visible Splinters

If you can see the splinter, you can probably remove it with tweezers or a needle. But first, you need to sterilize those tools so they don’t put bacteria into your wound.

Sanitize your tools and the area. Dip your tools in rubbing alcohol and put hydrogen peroxide around the splinter. If the splinter wound is big enough to let the peroxide down into it, it may even push the splinter up a little with its bubbly action. In any case, it’ll help prevent infection.

Remove a Splinter with Tweezers

Ice the area where the splinter is to numb it. It’s like a local anesthetic, so you won’t be able to feel much of anything while you work.

If the splinter is easily visible on the surface of your skin, you can use the tweezers for removal. Grasp the exposed end of the splinter firmly but gently with sterilized tweezers and pull it out in the same direction it entered your skin.

Avoid squeezing too hard as this may cause the splinter to break off, leaving part of the splinter behind in your skin.

Removing a Splinter with a Needle

I’m not a fan of this method. But sometimes it works.

Select a point on your skin around one end of the exposed portion of the splinter. Use the needle to gently create a small entry point at an angle parallel to the splinter. 

Be cautious not to dig too deep or make the wound larger than necessary. 

Section 6: Lift and Remove Splinter

Using the tip of your disinfected needle or tweezers, carefully lift the exposed end of the splinter. Apply gentle pressure while lifting in a straight upward motion. Take care not to break the splinter, as this can make removal more difficult.

The tape method

The simplest method for removing a splinter is to put Scotch tape over the splinter, then pull it off. The tape will grab most splinters and pull them out smoothly, with no pain.

In some cases, masking or duct tape may work better. Try whatever you have on hand until something works. Follow these steps:

  • Cut a small piece of adhesive tape, preferably clear or transparent.
  • Place the tape directly over the splinter, pressing it firmly onto your skin.
  • Gently lift the tape to see if it has adhered to the splinter. If it hasn’t, repeat this process a few times until successful.
  • Once the splinter is attached to the tape, pull it off gently and discard the tape along with the splinter.

Elmer’s glue

When tape fails, put a dab of Elmer’s (or any other non-toxic, kid safe household glue) over the splinter. Once it dries, pull it off and the splinter should come with it.

Use Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda can be used as an effective home remedy to bring a splinter closer to the surface of your skin. Here’s how:

  • Mix baking soda with a small amount of water to create a thick paste.
  • Apply this paste directly onto the affected area, covering it with a bandage or adhesive tape.
  • Leave it on for several hours or overnight before removing and rinsing with warm water.
  • As baking soda draws out moisture from your skin, it may help bring the splinter closer to the surface, making removal easier.

Apply Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can serve two purposes when it comes to removing splinters: disinfection and loosening. It can help bring the splinter to the surface, where you can more easily pull the splinter out with tweezers.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Soak a cotton ball in hydrogen peroxide and apply it directly over the area where the splinter is embedded.
  • Allow it to sit for several minutes; this will help disinfect the area.
  • Once you remove the cotton ball, the peroxide may have loosened the splinter, making it easier to remove with sterilized tweezers.

Soak in Warm Water with Epsom Salt

If you’re having trouble removing a stubborn splinter, soaking in warm water with Epsom salts can make it easier. Fill a basin or bowl with warm water and soak the affected area for 10-15 minutes.

The warm water will help soften your skin and expand the pores around the splinter, making it easier to use tweezers to remove.

Dressing the wound

If the splinter is out, but it’s left an inflamed area of skin, put an antibiotic ointment on it and put an adhesive bandage on it for probably 24 hours. 

If your skin doesn’t tolerate antibiotic ointment, clean it with a cotton swab dipped in hydrogen peroxide and then put white petrolatum (Vaseline or another brand) over it.

After that, it should be healed enough that no dirt can get into the wound, at which point you should remove the bandage and let it get some air.

If the skin where the splinter has no visible puncture or inflammation, just clean it with some hydrogen peroxide and/or alcohol (if it’s still numb with ice, this shouldn’t hurt – otherwise there is the possibility of a tiny sting from alcohol, so on kids you can stick with peroxide).

If all Else Fails, Seek Medical Attention

If all your attempts to remove the splinter are unsuccessful, or if you notice signs of infection such as increased pain, redness, swelling, or discharge, you may need a medical professional to help remove it.

A healthcare professional has the expertise and tools necessary to safely remove more challenging splinters and prevent complications.