Caring for a Splinter

Wash your hands1 thoroughly before attempting to remove the splinter. Before trying more invasive methods, squeeze the splinter from both sides and the bottom of the splinter to try and work it back the way it came.

Clean a needle and a pair of tweezers with a mild antiseptic cleanser like Benzalkonium Chloride. Do not use isopropyl alcohol unless that’s all you have available. Benzalkonium Chloride is much more effective at killing bacteria than isopropyl alcohol.

Wash the wound and surrounding area with soap and warm water. A little antiseptic on the wound is also not a bad idea.
Use the needle to open up the skin above the splinter enough to grab the splinter with the tweezers and remove it. If the needle doesn’t work, a pair of nail clippers can be used on the skin – remember to clean the nail clippers with an antiseptic soap. Grasp the end of the splinter with the tweezers and back it out of the skin. Wash the wound with warm water and soap. Again, Benzalkonium Chloride is an excellent skin cleanser in this situation.
Usually, the pain of a splinter is more irritable than anything. However, if the area is very tender, try a bee-sting swab to dull the pain.
Splinters under a fingernail (subungal splinters) may present a bigger problem. If the tip of the splinter cannot be reached with tweezers, either go see a doctor or not. A doctor will be able to snip away the nail and pull the splinter out. The other option is to keep the area clean and wait until natural nail growth pushes the splinter out. Watch the area closely for signs of infection.
Make sure the victim is up to date on tetanus vaccination. If not – have the doctor remove the splinter when going in to get the vaccination.
Finally, splinters will work out of the skin naturally and may not need to be removed. There’s no need to hurry – wait until the proper cleanliness can be achieved to remove splinters.
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