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A Complete Guide to Splinters: When to DIY vs When to See a Doctor

It’s that time of year when kids and parents get to enjoy the great outdoors. Unfortunately, those joys come along with plenty of scrapes and bruises and a handful of nasty splinters.

So, what do you do when you get a sliver of wood stuck under your skin? How do you get them out? When should you visit your doctor instead of doing it yourself?

When you’re ready to get the answers to all these questions and squash your fear of splinters for good, read on.

Home Remedies for Splinters

Grab a pair of tweezers, a needle, a cotton swab, and your favorite bottle of antiseptic. Betadine and rubbing alcohol are the most common over the counter antiseptics. Either will work fine.

  1. Start by soaking the splinter area in warm, soapy water. This can make the skin more pliable. The splinter might also swell, absorbing the water, making it easier to grab.
  2. Also, wash your hands, so you don’t spread bacteria into your open cut.
  3. Use your pair of tweezers to grasp the visible end of the splinter. Now, pull it out at the same angle it went in. Wash the area and dab on antiseptic using a cotton swab.
  4. If you couldn’t pull the splinter with tweezers alone, you need to use a needle. First, soak the needle in a small glass of your antiseptic to sterilize it. An alternative is to boil the needle in water to sterilize it.

Now, stick the side of the splinter with the point of the needle. Dislodge the splinter by sliding it out until you can grab it with your tweezers. Now, wash the area and swab it with antiseptic.

Essential Oils for Splinters

If you’re up for more home remedies, you can try essential oils. They’re great for the following purposes:

  • Soften the skin
  • Disinfecting the area
  • Drawing out the splinter

Do splinters come out on their own? Some do, some don’t.

If you leave them in, the area will swell as your body sends blood filled with antibodies to fight the foreign invading body. This swelling may push the splinter back out the way it came in. Essential oils may produce the same effect in a shorter period of time.

  • Clove
  • Lavender
  • Frankincense
  • Tea tree

These oils are also antiseptics, so they’ll also disinfect the area. Lavender oil will also soften your skin.

When to Seek Medical Care

Although you can usually remove splinters at home without complications, rare occasions may require a doctor’s visit. After all, not everything can be as easy as getting rid of bug bites. If you have any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your primary care provider.

  • A splinter under the fingernail that you can’t remove
  • A splinter near your eye
  • A deep, painful splinter that you can’t dislodge
  • A broken splinter that you can’t dislodge
  • Signs of infection such as pus, swelling, redness, or red streaking
  • A large splinter affecting your movement or interfering with nerve sensation
  • An uncooperative patient unwilling to let you remove their splinter

Remember, a splinter by itself is only a minor inconvenience. On the other hand, an infection from the bacteria on the splinter may lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition.

What’s Next?

Now that you know all there is to know about splinters, you can try your hand at removing them yourself. If you run into one you can’t dislodge, or if you show symptoms of an infection, don’t wait. Contact your local doctor today. So long and good luck!