6 Easy Ways on How to Remove Splinters from Child's Skin

Effective Ways to Remove Splinters From Your Child’s Skin

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Gunjan Baweja (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

Children are always unaware of little hazards that can hurt them during their play, and a splinter wound is the most common result of those. There are many materials such as wood, glass, plastic and metal that can break into fine splinters and make it into your toddler’s skin as they play around. Here is what to do when you find yourself in such a scenario.

Are Splinters Harmful?

Splinters aren’t harmful by themselves but they can make way for certain harmful bacteria to enter your child’s body and cause infections. If your child’s vaccinations are not up to date, there is always a risk of tetanus. It’s a potentially fatal infection to babies caused by a bacterium that enters the blood through a wound. The DTaP vaccine protects against tetanus is normally given around 2, 4, and 6 months. It is also given again between 15 to 18 months and again between 4 and 6 years and again between ages 11 to 13. Booster shots are recommended after that every 10 years for the rest of the life.

Things You Need to do Before Removing the Splinter at Home

Removing splinters from children’s feet might not be as simple as you would assume. The child most likely won’t co-operate fully and there’s a chance you could end up pushing the splinter deeper. Therefore, to begin with, get some help and ask someone to hold the child as he will inevitably squirm when you try to pull out the splinter. Clean your hands and the wound before you begin and sterilize your instruments such as tweezers, needles, and clippers and so on. Stay calm and do not lose patience, it might add to your child’s fear. Seeing you calm, on the other hand, makes them feel secure and cooperate. Once the splinter is out, apply antibacterial cream to the wound.

Simple Ways of Getting Splinters Out from A Child’s Skin

Here are some useful methods on how to get a splinter out of a toddler:

1. Using Needle and Tweezers

Most splinters can be pulled out by tweezers with some help from a needle. Here is how to do it:

  • Sterilize both by dropping them in boiling water and later cleaning with some alcohol.
  • Dab a little alcohol around the wound before you being extracting the splinter.
  • Using the needle clear out a little skin by making a slit, so as much as the splinter is exposed and within the grasp of the tweezers.
  • Grab the splinter firmly with the tweezers and gently pull it out in the same direction that it went in to avoid breaking it.

Using Needle and Tweezers

2. Drawing Salve Method

You will need the drawing salve or Ichthammol ointment for this procedure and a band-aid.

  • Apply the ointment over the wound and cover it with a band-aid so it doesn’t stain pillows or sheets while you let it work in the night.
  • Remove the band-aid after a day and check if the splinter has come out.

3. Baking Soda Paste

Prepare a paste using ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and water. Apply it over the wound and cover with a band-aid overnight. Open the band-aid after a day and you may find the splinter sticking to the band-aid.

4. Using Cello Tape

If you can’t find a pair of tweezers in time, use a cello tape and stick it to the wound over the splinter. Pull out the tape and you will find that the tape pulls out the splinter as it peels.

5. Using Glue

Although it seems like a bad idea to glue a lodged splinter to the skin, it works well with white wood or craft glue. Apply some white glue over the wound and splinter and allow it to dry. Peel off the glue and it pulls out the splinter along with it.

6. Nail Clippers and Tweezers

This is effective when large splinters are stuck in your child’s foot in places with some callus such as the heel or the ball of the foot.

  • Clean the wound with some alcohol dabbed to a cotton bud.
  • Use the nail clippers to clear way some callus that’s covering the splinter until it is within the grasp of the tweezers.
  • Firmly grip the splinter with the tweezers and pull out gently in the direction it went in.

How to Stop Splinters From Hurting

The easiest way to stop a splinter from hurting is to numb the area with ice immediately. Along with numbing the pain, it also distracts your child from the pain, as you work to remove the splinter from the skin. Once removed, wash the area clean, apply an antibacterial cream and cover it with a bandage.

What to Do If You Are Unable to Remove the Splinter or Your Child Refuses to Remove it

If it’s a small splinter that isn’t causing too much pain, you can try leaving it there for a few days. Soaking their hands or feet in warm water for a while will help the splinter work itself out as the warm water loosens the skin around it. However, if the splinter is big and embedded firmly in the flesh or if the object is curved and can’t be pulled out, it’s best to leave it for the doctor to take care of.

What to Do If You Are Unable to Remove the Splinter or Your Child Refuses to Remove it

How to Prevent Your Child From Getting Splinters

Here are some ways you can minimise your child’s injuries:

  • Ensure he is wearing shoes when playing outside.
  • Sand down toys that have jagged edges or wooden railings or floor that has edges that can splinter.
  • If you break a glass item in the house, ensure to vacuum the whole area and mop up afterwards.
  • Keep him away from plants and bushes that have thorns or try bark that can splinter.
  • Inspect playground equipment regularly for frayed materials that might splinter, and get them repaired.

When to Consult The Doctor

Most splinters can be extracted at home with simple methods mentioned above but sometimes baby splinter removal needs professional help. You should consult a doctor under these conditions:

  • The splinter is large and is lodged firmly in the skin causing much pain when disturbed.
  • The splinter is in too deep and you can’t get it out.
  • It breaks off while you’re trying to pull it out.
  • If you notice swelling, warmth, redness or pus in the area.
  • It is lodged in the child’s eye, in which case it should always be looked at by a doctor.

Splinters are a common part of childhood, as your little one tries to explore his surroundings. Unless it is a serious wound, most splinters can be safely removed and treated at home. If your child experiences pain or you are not confident about removing the splinter effectively, make sure to consult a doctor,

Also Read:

Greenstick Fracture in Children
Burns in Kids
Playground Safety for Children

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