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How to remove splinters painlessly and safely

If you can reach a spliter 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.

Tweezers for removing splinters on white surface

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.

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.

Tweezers and needles

If none of the easier methods work, you may need to resort to tweezers and needles. In that case, here’s how to make it as easy as possible:

  • 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.
  • Sanitize your tools and the area. Dip your tools in 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.

Dressing the wound

If the splinter has left an inflamed area of skin, put Neosporin or a similar ointment on it and put a bandaid on it for probably 24 hours. After that, it should be healed enough that no dirt can get into the wound, at which point you should remove the bandaid 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).