Young children explore their world by touching most everything within reach. Unfortunately, some of the things they touch, like wood mulch, old wooden railings and older wooden playground equipment are likely to give them splinters.
While splinters can cause as much anxiety in parents as they do in children, if you know how to remove them, dealing with them can be much less stressful for you and your child.
If you find your child has a splinter, try following these steps to remove it:
1. Wash your hands and the affected area with soap and warm water.
2. Sterilize a pair of tweezers and a sharp needle by running them through a flame or by wiping them down with rubbing alcohol.
3. Relocate to a well-lit area with your child.
4. If the tip of the splinter is sticking out of the skin, use the tweezers to remove it. Place the tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently pull the splinter out at the same angle in went in.
5. If the splinter is embedded in the skin, use the needle to scrape away enough of the skin around the tip of the splinter so that you can extract it with the tweezers.
6. Wash the affected area with soap and water and place a small amount of antibiotic ointment on the wound to prevent infection.
While this is the most straightforward approach for removing a splinter, some children won't tolerate such an invasive approach. In these instances, try:
- Wiping a credit card down with rubbing alcohol and using the corner of the card to gently push the splinter out of the skin. Place the corner of the card at the back end of the splinter and gently drag the card forward, over the splinter to push it out.
- Placing packing tape over the splinter and peeling it back toward the direction of which the splinter entered the skin.
- Removing the splinter when your child is asleep or distracted by a movie. Sometimes the fear of the tweezers and needle will stunt cooperation.
- Waiting it out. Most splinters will work their way out in a week or so if left alone.
If you are unable to get the splinter out, if your child seems to have severe pain of if the area seems infected (warm, hot to the touch, has discharge), contact your child's healthcare provider immediately.
Have you had to remove a splinter? What has worked for you? Post your tricks in the comments area below.