How to Remove a Deep Splinter

Two Methods:Dealing with Deep SplintersRemoving Other Splinters

Splinters are a common nuisance for both children and adults. The most common types of splinters that can get embedded in your skin are made of wood, glass or metal.[1] Most superficial splinters can be removed at home with some basic tools or compounds, although deeper splinters often need medical assistance. Any type of splinter can be painful, cause local irritation and potentially lead to an infection — they can introduce bacteria or other germs into your skin. As such, it's best to remove a splinter and clean the minor wound as quickly as you can.

Method 1
Dealing with Deep Splinters

  1. 1
    Avoid squeezing the splinter. It may be your first instinct, but with any deep splinter, avoid squeezing around the edges of the wound with your fingers in efforts to push the splinter out. It rarely works and you risk breaking the splinter and causing more damage.
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    Use a needle to pry the splinter loose. For a deeper splinter that's below the surface of your skin, use a sterilized needle or pin to try and dig a portion of it up above the surface.[2] Use the clean needle / pin to make a small hole in your skin over the end of the splinter closest to the surface. Then try to lift the splinter up with the tip of the needle/pin until it can be nabbed with tweezers or nail clippers and removed. Don't try to completely dig the deep splinter out because you'll cause more damage and risk breaking the splinter.
    • Disinfect the needle or pin by wiping it with an alcohol swab or by holding it in a flame for about a minute.
    • The initial probing with the needle/pin may hurt a little, especially if the splinter is in your finger or toe.
    • If the wound bleeds after the splinter is removed, then apply a clean cotton ball with pressure for about five minutes or until the wound clots.
    • With this more invasive method, spend a little more time to thoroughly disinfect the wound with alcohol wipes, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide before applying pressure with the cotton ball.
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    Consider using a drawing salve. A drawing salve is a type of disinfectant that helps to dislodge deeper splinters by lubricating them and allowing them to "slip out" of your skin.[3] It's a painless way of bringing deeper splinters to the surface of your skin. However, once you've applied the drawing salve to the wound, it often takes a day or so to dislodge the splinter, depending on where it is and how deep it is. As such, you'll need some patience and have to put up with any discomfort for many hours.
    • One of the more common brands is Ichthammol (black drawing salve), which is found at most pharmacies over-the-counter.
    • Beware that drawing salves are quite greasy and tend to smell unpleasant.
    • It's best to cover the salve with a band-aid while you wait for it to work.
    • In most cases, the salve will only bring the splinter to the skin's surface, so you'll still need to pluck it out with tweezers.
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    Try adding some baking soda to the wound. Baking soda is not only a good disinfectant, but it can slow down bleeding and help draw a deep splinter closer to the skin's surface.[4] If the splinter is made of glass, metal or plastic, then soak the area in a basin of warm water with a few teaspoons of baking soda added for up to an hour. If the splinter is wooden, soaking it is not a good idea because it may swell or disintegrate and become more difficult to remove. Instead, make a thick baking soda paste with some water, apply it over your wound and cover with a bandage overnight.
    • Baking soda helps draw deeper splinters closer to the surface much like drawing salves do, but it smells much better and isn't greasy.
    • You should also expect to use tweezers or nail clippers to remove the splinter with this method also.
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    Seek medical attention. If you've tried the above methods at home and can't get the splinter out of your skin, then go see your doctor or another medical professional within a few days so that you don't risk getting an infection. Other reasons to immediately seek medical help include: if the splinter is in the eye or deeply embedded anywhere else; if the splinter is underneath a fingernail or toenail; if a deep splinter has broken within your skin; if the splinter has caused a significant wound; if the wound won't stop bleeding.[5]
    • If the doctor needs to cut the deep splinter out of your skin with a scalpel, they will use a topical anesthetic to numb the area first.
    • Large wounds may need stitches to close after the splinter has been removed.
    • If the splinter is under your nail, part of your nail will most likely be removed to get at it, although it will eventually grow back.
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    Watch for signs of infection. An infection can develop from any type of splinter, in any area and at any depth, so be watchful for a couple of days after your splinter is removed for signs of a skin infection. Common signs of an infection include local swelling, increasing tenderness, discoloration (red, bluish), discharge of pus, and numbness and tingling around the wound.[6] More serious signs that are indicative that the infection is spreading around your body in your blood include: fever, nausea, night sweats, body aches, headaches and delirium.
    • The most common cause of skin infection from a splinter is bacteria, although fungi is not uncommon.
    • Antibacterial ointment can help deter an infection, although antibiotic medication may be needed if the infection becomes systemic (in the blood).
    • A splinter wound can become quite inflamed without being infected if the splinter is coated with certain plant alkaloids, oils, resins or fungi that trigger an allergic reaction. For examples, blackthorns are covered in toxic alkaloids, while rose thorns are usually covered in fungi.[7]

Method 2
Removing Other Splinters

  1. Image titled Remove a Deep Splinter Step 6
    Use sterilized tweezers. The easiest and quickest way to remove a more superficial splinter (one that sticks up above the surface of the skin) is to use a small pair of tweezers.[8] Make sure to sterilize the tweezers with rubbing alcohol or vinegar before using them, and wash your hands with soap and water also — but don't get the splinter wet if it's made of wood because it might disintegrate when you pull on it. Boiling the tweezers in water for a few minutes will also sterilize them. You don't want to introduce germs that may be residing on the tweezers into the wound made by the splinter.
    • Splinters made of wood, thorns, spines and other vegetative material trigger more of an inflammatory reaction from your body, whereas glass, metal and plastic splinters are fairly inert and don't cause as much irritation.[9]
    • All types of splinters can carry bacteria and other microorganisms that may cause infection.
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    Carefully pluck the splinter out. Use a steady hand and carefully grab the tip of the splinter — get a firm hold of it — then slowly pull it out. Make sure not to break the splinter off or leave any material within your skin, as you'll increase the risk of an infection.[10] If you have a choice, pick tweezers that have a serrated inner edge because you'll likely be able to grip the splinter better than smooth-edged varieties.
    • Use a magnifying glass if the splinter is quite small and you have trouble seeing it. Ask a friend or family member to hold the magnifying glass for you if you're having difficulty.
    • Make sure to pull the splinter out at the same angle it went in in order to reduce the risk of it breaking.[11] Seldom do splinters enter the skin at a 90 degree angle and stick straight up.
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    Consider using nail clippers for thick splinters. If the splinter is particularly thick and not too fragile, then a good alternative to tweezers is a sturdy pair of nail clippers. Again, sterilize the clippers before attempting to remove the splinter. If the large splinter is stuck into relatively thick skin at an extreme angle, then don't be afraid to clip some overlaying skin along with the splinter in order to remove it — it shouldn't hurt in thick-skinned areas like your heel that isn't sensitive.
    • When using nail clippers, remember to cut the skin in a parallel direction to that of the splinter.
    • Don't clip away too much skin so that it draws blood. A deeper wound will also increase the risk of infection.[12]
    • When using nail clippers or tweezers, use your dominant hand (if you can — this won't work if the splinter is in fact in your dominant hand) so you have better dexterity and control.
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    Clean the punctured area. After you remove the splinter, set it aside and focus on cleaning the small puncture wound. Start by washing it with warm water and soap, then dry it with a clean serviette and wipe it again with an alcohol wipe. Alcohol is an excellent disinfectant, but white vinegar, iodine and hydrogen peroxide work well also.[13] Be aware that these natural disinfectants can sting when applied, so prepare for a few minutes of mild discomfort. After the wound is cleaned and disinfected, make sure it's completely dry before applying a small band-aid to protect it.
    • If you don't have alcohol wipes, use a clean cotton ball or Q-tip and dip it into some rubbing alcohol.
    • Once the wound is properly cleaned and dressed, safely discard the splinter so it doesn't puncture you again or anyone else.


  • If you have tried the do-it-yourself methods and the splinter still refuses to come out, you should consider seeing your doctor, as the wound could become infected.
  • Don't try to remove any splinter in your eye, as you might injure yourself and compromise your vision. Cover your injured eye and call emergency medical services. Try to keep both eyes closed as much as possible as you wait for assistance, as this decreases movement in the injured eye.

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Categories: Injury and Accidents