Splinter Removal
January 21, 2004 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Splinter removal. I got a gnarly splinter last night walking past a light pole, it's very deep and I can't seem to get it out. I soaked my hand, which I found out was wrong because it expands the wood, I tried grabbing it with tweezers, but it's too deep. I tried google, but could only find a few suggestions, any tried and true methods of getting out a DEEP (and painful) splinter?
posted by jonah to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I usually just use a sharp knife to slice the skin above it, and it'll come out easy. Make sure to wash the knife and skin before and after. Poylsporin works wonders too. It's the only thing that's worked 100% for me.
posted by will at 9:07 AM on January 21, 2004

Go digging. And be sure to use lots of rubbing alcohol on the knife (I've also had success with nail clippers to peel open the skin), tweezers, and skin both before and after, and antibiotic ointment after.
posted by The Michael The at 9:09 AM on January 21, 2004

Clean it, alcohol may be better than water for this as it will evaporate off and not get soaked up. Use a sterilised pin to stick in the skin and push the splinter out of the hole it came in through, clean the wound again and put a plaster and antiseptic over it. Consider when you last had your tetanus shot.
If it's a *really* deep splinter, stay away from seeing Master and Commander at your local cinema.
posted by biffa at 9:09 AM on January 21, 2004

You need to dig it out using a sterelized needle and a cold cream like Nivea. Numb the area with ice, apply a thin layer of cold cream, and dig it out with the needle. Keep applying cream and be sure to check that all splinters are removed.
posted by riffola at 9:18 AM on January 21, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, I did consider my last tetnus shot since it was from a light pole (I got one two years ago). As for Master and Commander, it's probably best to avoid that movie no matter what your splinter state is.

Any other ideas on how to coaxe the splinter out of the hole? I'm willing to cut myself open, but this is really deep. Do people ever have a doctor remove a splinter?
posted by jonah at 9:21 AM on January 21, 2004

Of course you can go to a doctor, assuming you have insurance or the money. Best avoid the emergency room, those folks will slap a large fee just for walking in the door!

Otherwise, use sterile procedures for knife and skin, apply antibiotic cream afterwards (seriously, this is very beneficial).

Sometimes you can massage the splinter closer to the surface, but this might not work and may even make things worse (its just what my mother would do).

Worse thing to do is use your mouth, its most germ-ridden part of your body.
posted by Goofyy at 9:34 AM on January 21, 2004

I've heard there is a product called "drawing salve" that helps bring the splinter to the surface. Not sure if corner drugstores would carry it, but google it and you'll find plenty of links.

If it's really in there deep, you may have to have a doctor get it out, if only for the local anaesthetic to numb the pain of slicing down into the deep layers of your flesh.

Then there's my friend who is a sometimes carpenter. He just leaves splinters alone until his body forces them out by itself, along with lots of pus.
posted by starvingartist at 9:37 AM on January 21, 2004

I've had a doctor remove a splinter from the bottom of my foot. So no need for embarrassment on your part - the precedent has definitely been set. Of course, 'splinter' might not be the best term to use here. 'Log' is probably more appropriate. Anyway, a couple of shots of an anesthetic right into the bottom of my foot (good times), scalpel, slice, remove 'splinter', clean, oopsie...didn't get all of it there..., scalpel, slice remove more 'splinter'...

I'm not helping, am I?
posted by mathis23 at 9:39 AM on January 21, 2004

I'd recommend an Exacto over a pocket knife -- it's a much thinner, much sharper blade, so you'll get a cleaner, more precise cut.

When you say "really deep," do you mean all the way through the skin and into flesh?
posted by me3dia at 9:40 AM on January 21, 2004

"Worse thing to do is use your mouth, its most germ-ridden part of your body."

Not necessarily true. There may be a lot of bacteria in there, but there are also proteins in your saliva that promote the healing process. Plus, I'd much rather stick a wounded finger in my mouth than, say, my ass. That's got to be a lot more germier.
posted by starvingartist at 9:43 AM on January 21, 2004

Geez you people are ironmen, with your sharp knives and your needles. Try this first if you're a wimp like me: soak the skin around the splinter in a solution made with 1 tablespoon of baking soda mixed in 1 cup of warm water. Do this 2 times a day. The splinter often will work its way out.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:43 AM on January 21, 2004

Two things that ALWAYS work, jonah, and don't involve self-surgery (as a mom I can attest to these personally, because children are not keen to getting sliced open...) -

Keep putting hydrogen peroxide on it - the bubbles will slowly, slowly, slowly bring the splinter to the surface.

Black ointment, also known as Ichthammol, also known as black salve - you can buy it at any pharmacy. You put a thick dab on and cover the area with a bandaid - it will definitely work - the splinter will be in the bandaid the next day. It draws toxins and foreign objects out of your skin. Works great on blind pimples, too.

Your best bet would be to use the hp a few times and then put on the salve.
posted by iconomy at 9:44 AM on January 21, 2004

Response by poster: Luckily, I have very good health coverage, and even a small medical clinic here at work, so I might stroll down there and get it cut out.

I was wondering about leaving it in and letting my body deal with it, but since it is so deep, I was curious if the skin would just grow over it. My gilfriend had a pencil lead (graphite) break off in her foot when she was younger and you can still see it sitting there.

Man, I sound like such a ninny over a splinter.

on preview: by "really deep" I mean all the way into the skin, almost perpinducular to my skin, and broken off below the surface so I can't get a grip on it.
posted by jonah at 9:45 AM on January 21, 2004

Hey, I have pencil lead in my hand, from the 1st grade! I wonder how common that is?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:14 AM on January 21, 2004

(Semi-manditory legal mumbo-jumbo: I am trained in Basic First Aid by the Red Cross) my two coments, is a) i would go see a doctor, and if you came to me i'd say the same, as removing a fully broken-off splinter is an invasive procedure, and b) do NOT use Hydrogen Peroxide. It works by disolving away dead skin, which it does quite nicely, but it also disolves away live skin. It is my understanding that no ambulence crew (in the US) uses H2O2 any more (apart from cleaning ears, which it is still the best thing for)
posted by Davidicus at 10:24 AM on January 21, 2004

Response by poster: New Ask MeFi tagline:

I'd much rather stick a wounded finger in my mouth than, say, my ass
posted by jonah at 10:33 AM on January 21, 2004

Rubbing alcohol doesn't actually do much to sterilize things. Fire or boiling works better.

That said, go to the doctor if you're worried, you can get a nasty infection from things like this.
posted by biscotti at 10:35 AM on January 21, 2004

I've got pencil marks in my arm and in my leg from elementary and high school! It's like a baby tattoo. I think it's pretty common.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:44 AM on January 21, 2004

Ditto on the pencil lead! Right by my knee, from having just sharpened a pencil in the kitchen and running down the three stairs to the living room to do homework. Damn homework.
posted by GaelFC at 12:12 PM on January 21, 2004

Pencil lead in my right knee from where my little brother stabbed me when we were kids. He would deny it, damn him.
posted by justgary at 12:27 PM on January 21, 2004

Response by poster: Here's an update on my splinter. It's out now, I went down to the health center at work and had them take a look at it. They removed it by taking a very sharp injection needle and using the end of it to scrape away the skin and flesh on top of the splinter.

The splinter had become a little soft so they couldn't pull it out with tweezers and the nurse really dug around in there to get the pieces out. I'm not totally convinced that everything was retreived, but it feels a lot better.

The nurse mentioned that while the body can reject a metal splinter or shaving pretty easily on its own, wood splinters are a little tougher and can stay lodged in there. It sounds like it's always a good idea to take the splinter out to prevent infection which can be pretty nasty.

As an after treatment, the nurse said to use Neosporin in a band aid twice a day. Also, it was advised that I put the Neosporin on the band aid and not on my skin directly to keep the ointment bacteria free.

Thanks for everyone's suggestions!
posted by jonah at 1:38 PM on January 21, 2004

another life saved by the green, i'm tearing up!
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 7:04 AM on January 22, 2004

LOL, "tearing" up is exactly what to do about splinters.

Ditto on the pencil lead, left thigh, from swinging a #2 a bit too hard in 2nd grade.
posted by brownpau at 11:32 AM on January 22, 2004

I've wandered into this discussion a few days late, but in case anyone references this thread for a future splinter, let me say that wood splinters left in the skin cause a significant inflammatory reaction and can lead to bad infections. They need to come out, and it's better to do it mechanically with local anesthetic or a nerve block than to rely on any oily concoctions to "draw out" the splinter. So if you can't bear to do it yourself (as sterilly as possible), I would head to an emergency room or urgent care center.
posted by mert at 9:45 AM on January 25, 2004

« Older Floating poo   |   Doggy Depression? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.