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 Emergency & First Aid: First Aid for Splinters 
American Institute for Preventive Medicine ©
Splinters are pieces of wood, glass, metal or other matter that get caught under the skin. Splinters tend to hurt if they are stuck deep under the skin. Those near the top of the skin are usually painless. Remove splinters so they don't cause an infection.


  • Wear shoes out-of-doors at all times and whenever walking on unfinished floors.
  • Sand, varnish and/or paint handrails to prevent getting splinters in the hands.
  • Clean up all broken glass and metal shavings around the house. Be careful when you handle broken glass. Wear hard-soled shoes when glass has been broken.
  • Wear work gloves when you handle plants with thorns and sharp tips and spines.
  • Make sure tetanus shots are up-to-date. Check with your doctor or health department.

Questions to Ask

For children and adults:

Do these signs exist?

  • Fever, swollen lymph nodes and red streaks spreading from the splinter towards the heart
Yes: Seek Care
Does the wound show signs of infection such as pus, puffiness and redness? Is it painful and/or bleeding?Yes:See Doctor
Is the splinter deeply embedded in the skin and you cannot get it out? Are you diabetic?Yes:Call Doctor
For children:

Has your child missed any Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, (DTP) vaccinations which should have been given at these times?

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • between 12 and 15 months
  • between 4 and 6 years
  • between 11 and 16 years
Yes:Call Doctor
Is your child running a temperature of 101 degrees F or more?Yes:Call Doctor
For adults:

Was your last tetanus shot more than ten years ago? If the splinter is deeply imbedded, was it more than five years ago?

Yes:Call Doctor

Self-Care/First Aid

  • To remove the splinter:
    • Wash your hands, but don't let the area around a wooden splinter get wet. A wooden splinter that gets wet will swell. This will make it harder to remove.
    • Sterilize tweezers in boiling water, by dipping them in rubbing alcohol or over a flame. Wipe off the blackness on the tip with sterile gauze if you use a lit match for the flame.
    • Gently pull the part of the splinter that sticks out through the skin with the tweezers. It should slide right out.
    • If the splinter is buried under the skin, sterilize a needle and gently slit the skin over one end of the splinter. Then, use the needle to lift that end and pull out the splinter with the tweezers.
    • Check to see that all of the splinter has been removed. If not, repeat the above steps.
    • Or, soak the skin around the splinter twice a day. Place one teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of warm water and wet the affected area. After a few days, the splinter will likely slip out.
  • Clean the wound by washing with soap and water. Blot it dry with a clean cloth or sterile gauze pad and apply a sterile bandage.
  • To remove a large number of close-to-the-surface splinters such as cactus spines, apply a layer of hair removing wax, facial gel or white glue, such as Elmer's, to the skin. Let it dry for 5 minutes. Gently peel it off by lifting the edges of the dried wax, gel or glue with tweezers. The splinter(s) should come up with it.
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