How To Effectively Remove A Splinter

Paul M. Graham, DO

In May 2016, the American Academy of Dermatology released an article outlining the steps for proper at-home removal of a wood splinter. As the summer approaches, many people will be spending a lot time outdoors. Whether your cooking out on the grill, working in the yard, going to a baseball game, or just relaxing on a park bench, you are always susceptible to splinters. Although a splinter may seem arbitrary in the mix of summer fun, it is important to know what to do when you do get one. If you have small children, splinters will be an inevitable occurrence that you will have to manage (or should I say, play doctor with). Splinters are often very painful and sometimes have the potential for infection if left in place too long.

Splinters can often be removed safely at home with these 5 simple steps. If the splinter is large, deep, or an infection develops, it is imperative to visit a Dermatologist for proper evaluation and management.

  1. Wash the area: To help prevent infection, make sure the area is completely clean and dry prior to removalIMG_4034
  2. Locate the splinter: It may be necessary to use a magnifying lens to determine the location and direction of the splinterimg334
  3. Obtain tweezers: First, sterilize the tweezer tips with rubbing alcohol prior to attempting to remove. If part of the splinter is visible outside of the skin, use the tweezers to pull out the splinter in the same direction that it entered the skin. It is important never to squeeze the skin around the splinter as this can cause the splinter to break into pieces and make it nearly impossible to completely remove.
  4. Obtain a small needle: Again, sterilize the needle tip with rubbing alcohol prior to using the needle. Only use a needle if the entire splinter in buried under the skin. Use the needle to carefully puncture the skin where the splinter has entered and attempt to lift out the head of the splinter so that it is sticking out of the entrance point. Gently grab the end of the splinter with tweezers and carefully pull it out of the skin. The use of a magnifying lens may be helpful to locate the exact entrance point.IMG_4032
  5. Clean and bandage: Following removal of the splinter, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Dry and apply petrolatum jelly followed by a small bandaid. Typically the wound will heal over 3-5 days.

On rare occasion, splinters may be left in place. Overtime, the body’s natural process of skin turnover will expel the splinter. Soaking the area in warm water may help to facilitate this process, but keep in mind that this will soften the splinter and make it very difficult to remove.

Use these simple steps next time you or someone you know has a splinter. It is important to monitor for any signs of infection, which should prompt a medical evaluation. If removal is unsuccessful, make sure to visit a dermatologist for further treatment. We hope this information helps!

Photo Credit: WikiHow

Original Article:


Please note, our medical disclaimer applies to all information, images, recommendations, and comments published on this page.


Published by Dr. Paul M. Graham

Paul M. Graham, D.O. (Founder/Editor-in-chief) founded Dimensional Dermatology in May 2016 with the vision to provide concise, easy to read, up-to-date dermatology and aesthetic medicine information to patients, medical staff, providers, and the general public. Dr. Graham is currently completing his training as a cosmetic dermatologic surgery fellow in Virginia Beach, Virginia at the McDaniel Laser and Cosmetic Center. He completed his dermatology training at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and was a clinical instructor at Michigan State University. He received his B.S. degree as Summa Cum Laude at Old Dominion University, his D.O. degree as Cum Laude at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, completed his internship at Largo Medical Center in Largo, Florida as chief intern, and completed his dermatology residency training at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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