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Home Remedy: Safe Splinter Removal

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Splinters are one of the hazards of hanging out barefoot. We offer expert advice on how to remove them safely.
Self-Surgery: Splinter Removal

Hanging out barefoot on the back deck is one of the joys of summer. Unfortunately it also means splinters. Before you perform minor surgery on yourself, make sure you've got the right tool for the job.

  • If the splinter is small -- more like a sliver -- use Scotch or duct tape. Put a piece over the splinter and quickly pull, says Dave Ross, an emergency physician in Colorado Springs.
  • If the splinter is bigger and close to the surface, try tweezers with a pointed tip. First, clean them with rubbing alcohol or soap and water, says Richard O'Brien, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Grab hold of the splinter and firmly pull it out."
  • If the splinter is in deep, use a clean needle. Numb the area with an over-the-counter anesthetic spray, and gently scrape off a layer or two of skin. "Don't stick the needle in more than a few millimeters," warns Dr. O'Brien. "Otherwise you may push the splinter deeper." Use tweezers to pull it free.

Still can't dislodge it? Relax -- most splinters will eventually work their way out, says Charles Pattavina, MD, a clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at Brown University. "But if it swells and turns red, it may be infected. See your doctor."

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, August 2006.


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