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Splinter Removal Tips and Tricks

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Ardot lives and breathes on this planet. He shares what he likes and finds useful. He enjoys abstract art and ideas.

How to remove a splinter

How to remove a splinter

Ouch, a Splinter!

There is nothing more effective at halting play or work than a well-placed splinter. You've been there after the initial sting to retrieve the foreign invader. Many of the initial attempts just embed the splinter deeper into the skin. You are not supposed to squeeze the skin around the entry point because that pushes the splinter deeper. If you are lucky enough to get it out on the first few attempts with tweezers, then great; however, sometimes, you may have a difficult time getting the splinter because of the location, such as on the bottom of the foot.

Foot splinters are the worst because you need to walk. Every step you take drives the splinter deeper and deeper. Eventually, you stop feeling the pain, yet the skin tissue is still being damaged. The body's natural response is to surround the foreign object with liquid in an attempt to shield it from the body's bloodstream. If the object is not pushed out by the body's natural fluid response, an infection may occur.

Splinter Assessment

Now that you are the proud owner of a fine splinter, you must determine what you're up against. Wood or metal? Soft or hard? One piece or broken? Different types of splinters call for different approaches. We will look at the most common splinters and the most common approaches used for their removal. Let's begin . . .

Wood Splinter

The tweezers didn't work. The skin is starting to swell—the body's natural reaction. The swelling is often helpful in the sense that it will "squeeze" the splinter closer to the surface. One thing to remember about wood is that wood is porous. Wood will hold water and will expand in size while doing so. You can help with the "squeezing out" process by soaking the splintered area with water. Once the splinter is near the surface, you can attempt the tweezers again.

This technique will also work well for a partially removed splinter, such as a splinter that has been broken in half during previous removal attempts.

Metal Splinter

Metal splinters will not behave the same way as wood splinters. With metal splinters, you are relying solely on your skin to push out the foreign object. The metal will not expand like wood. I write this with a metal splinter in my foot.

After much Google searching, I have learned about drawing salves. Drawing salves work by removing moisture (this includes infected puss) from the area around the splinter; in turn, the splinter follows the exiting fluid, and the problem is solved.

I have read about Ichthammol Ointment, also known as "Black Salve." Treatment involves placing the salve on the skin where the splinter is located. A bandage is then placed over the affected area. Shortly after the splinter will be found in the bandage. I failed to find this at any of the pharmacies in my area. I decided to try something else.

Next on the Google list was magnesium sulphate: a paste made with Epsom salt. It is to be applied to the skin and draws out moisture and toxins to the surface of the skin, much like ichthammol. I was also unsuccessful at finding this at my local pharmacy, so I decided to make it myself simply by crushing the Epsom salt with some water to make a poultice. Read below for more details of this poultice, along with my own technique for deep splinters in hard-to-reach locations.

Fiberglass Splinters, Tiny but Deadly!

Working with fiberglass insulation or industrial-type fiberglass air filters can leave you with some rather annoying, tiny fiberglass splinters in your hands or on your skin. Prevention is key. Wear gloves and protective clothing if you work with this material. However, this stuff is sneaky and has ways of getting by your protective clothing.

If dermal contact occurs with a fiberglass splinter or splinters, as there's never just one with fiberglass, the best removal method is packaging tape! Luckily fiberglass usually sticks close to the surface of the skin as it doesn't have the weight to penetrate too deeply. Yet, it is too hard to see because of its size, rendering tweezers useless. Packaging tape will pull those tiny fibers right out!

Always be extra careful with this stuff around your eyes! Wear goggles, and DO NOT SCRATCH YOUR EYES IF THEY GET ITCHY! In the event that you get some in your eyes, try an eyewash or just rinse them out with water.

This material can also become airborne and enter your body through your mouth or nose while breathing. Wear a dust mask, or better yet, a cartridge respirator used for painting to prevent having this stuff in your throat or lungs!

Do not mess with this stuff. If you must be in contact with it, wear all the protective gear and keep others away! Work safe, stay alive!

What you'll need to remove a deep heel splinter

What you'll need to remove a deep heel splinter

Supplies I Used

  • Callus Cushions
  • Epsom Salts
  • Scotch Tape
  • Good Tweezers
  • Mortar and Pestle, (Herb Crushing Bowl)
  • Lots of Patience

What Worked for My Stubborn Heel Splinter:

I had a really stubborn metal splinter in my heel. It was a horrible spot because it would affect the way I walked. I couldn't land on that part of my heel, so eventually, the front part of my foot began to be sore with every step.

The splinter had gotten so deep because of the inevitable pressure constantly applied to the area by walking. Tweezers were out of the question. I tried soaking. It helped but not enough to get out the splinter.

I had read about making a poultice out of Epsom salts and applying it to the area with a bandage; however, this wouldn't work for me because of the ever-present pressure of walking. I refuse to be bedridden because of a splinter.

I went to the pharmacy and browsed through the aisles. What I came up with was pure genius! I purchased a pack of callus cushions and centered the entry point of the splinter with the hole of the cushion.

Then with my mortar and pestle (herb crushing bowl thingie), I prepared a poultice out of Epsom salt and water: 1 part Epsom salt, 1 part water. I scooped up the poultice and stuffed the center of the callus cushion with the Epsom salt poultice. Using a piece or two of scotch tape, I sealed up the hole, trapping the poultice in the void created by the callus cushion.

The callus cushion also relieves the pressure on the splinter, which greatly facilitates walking. All the while, the poultice was held in place, effectively giving it a chance to do its magic.

I followed the above procedure, and within three days, the splinter revealed its ugly head (which I quickly and easily tweezered away). The pain and the swelling also disappeared. I did have to re-apply the bandage and poultice every morning and night, but it was well worth it!


Egads! Man! Go see a doctor!!! Infection is no joke—you can lose a limb! Your doctor will know exactly what to do. A simple procedure that will probably take less than five minutes will solve your deep splinter woes. Of course, do try to get it out yourself. It can be pretty expensive for such a seemingly trivial thing. Usually, the splinter works its way out anyway. If you really would rather not go to a doctor, the Epsom salt or drawing salves will help keep infection away. Again, proceed at your own risk; runaway infection can have very dire consequences.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2015 Ardot


Ardot (author) from Canada on March 06, 2015:

Ouch! That's horrible! You have given me shivers... between the toes, to the bone ... ugghhh.... You went on your business trip anyway, you're a real trooper!!! My little splinter slowed me right down to a snails pace, i was completely useless for almost two nights at home, until it came out! I'm gad you liked some of my ideas and hope you never have to use them! I think you've had enough splinter/impaled objects to last you your lifetime!

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 05, 2015:

Reading about your metal splinter in your heel brings back bad memories. Mine wasn't a splinter so much as an impaled object. I stepped on a broken needle and didn't know what the problem was because it went almost all the way through to to the bone, between my big toe and second toe. I had a business meeting in NYC so I went and ended up returning with a foot so inflamed I could barely get my shoe off. They tried to remove the needle in the ER but I was screaming too loud so I had surgery. Usually I am a do it your selfer tough.I like your poultice and other suggestions for normal splinters, especially the soaking for wood splinters.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 04, 2015:

Removing splinters must be a painful experience. Excellent tips and so useful.