Splinters can become quite a nuisance if left unattended. These tiny wounds caused by slivers of metal, glass, plastic or wood that penetrate through the skin may result in pain, irritation or an infection.
Splinters settle into the subcutaneous layer of the skin and, if not removed, continue moving around and causing damage to the tissue. (1)
Now, this isn’t an issue that usually calls for immediate medical attention. However, if there is bleeding or swelling, it is best to seek professional care.
In most cases, a few common household items are enough to get rid of that annoying splinter! There are a number of easy remedies that can be used to heal the affected area and relieve the pain and irritation.
- Ways to Remove a Splinter at Home
- Method 1: Tweezers or Needle
- Method 2: Glue
- Method 3: Raw Bacon
- Method 4: Baking Soda
- Method 5: Duct Tape
- Method 6: Vinegar
- Method 7: Epsom Salt
- Method 8: Potato
- Method 9: Bread and Milk Poultice
- Method 10: Banana Peel
- Method 11: Honey
- Tips to keep in mind
Ways to Remove a Splinter at Home
Method 1: Tweezers or Needle
Tweezers are one of the most common tools to remove a splinter without pain. However, if not carried out carefully and gently, the process of removing a sliver with tweezers can cause further damage to the affected area.
Before you begin, you need to examine how big the splinter is as well as the direction from which it has entered the skin. If the splinter is very small, you can examine it with the help of a magnifying glass.
If the splinter is deeply embedded in the skin, you may need to use a needle to push it out a bit.
Note: If splinters are deeply embedded in the skin, infected or near a sensitive area like the eyes, please see physician or nurse practitioner for removal immediately.
Single-Step Method: Use tweezers to pull out the splinter
- Sterilize the tip of the tweezers with rubbing alcohol.
- Using the tweezers, grasp the part of the splinter that is sticking out of the skin and gently pull it out.
- Avoid squeezing the affected area, as it may cause the splinter to break.
- You can also use a sterilized needle and rubbing alcohol to remove a splinter. Gently pierce the skin’s surface at one end of the splinter. Very carefully, use the needle to push out a part of the splinter. Then, use the tweezers to pull out the splinter.
- After removing the splinter, clean the area with soapy water and apply petroleum jelly. (2)
Method 2: Glue
White glue or carpenter’s glue can be used for removing splinters that are not deeply embedded in the skin. This hassle-free and painless method is quite popular.
Single-Step Method: Apply glue on the affected area & peel it off when it dries
- Apply a few drops of the glue on the splintered area.
- Leave it on until it dries.
- Peel off the dried glue, preferably in the opposite direction of the path the sliver went in. The sliver will come out with the glue.
Method 3: Raw Bacon
Although the salt and grease present in bacon is not great for your health, it may prove to be helpful in removing splinters without pain. Bacon fat can help pull the splinter to the skin’s surface.
Single-Step Method: Place some bacon fat on the splintered area & leave it on overnight
- Cut off a tiny piece of white fat from the raw bacon slice.
- Place the piece of bacon fat on the affected area.
- Hold it in place using a bandage, tape or string.
- For best results, keep the bacon fat on the splintered area overnight.
- Carefully remove it the next morning. The splinter should come out with it.
If the splinter is still there, repeat the steps and wait one more day before removing the bacon piece.
Method 4: Baking Soda
There’s a box of baking soda in the kitchen cupboard of almost every household. It can prove to be extremely useful for removing deeply embedded, hard-to-pull-out splinters. How does it work? It simply causes the skin to swell, thus pushing out the splinter!
Things you’ll need:
- Baking soda
- Bandage or tape
Single-Step Method: Apply baking soda paste on the affected area & tape it
- Mix some baking soda with enough water to form a thick and sticky paste.
- Apply the paste on the affected area using your fingers or a paper towel.
- Cover the area with a bandage or tape and leave it on overnight.
- The next morning, the splinter should come out easily when you remove the bandage.
The deeper the splinter is embedded, the more time it will take to come closer to the skin’s surface. Repeat the steps if needed.
Method 5: Duct Tape
Duct tape works like a charm if the splinter is not completely embedded in the skin.
Single-Step Method: Place duct tape over the affected area and pull it off after 5 min
- Put a piece of duct tape over the splinter and gently rub it using your fingertips.
- Wait 5 minutes before pulling off the duct tape in a single, smooth motion.
- The splinter will stick to the tape and easily come out when you pull it off.
Method 6: Vinegar
Vinegar is among the most common remedies used to remove a splinter without pain. It works by causing the splinter to break through the surface of the skin. You can use either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Single-Step Method: Soak the affected area in vinegar
- Pour vinegar into a bowl and soak the affected area in it for 15 to 20 minutes.
- If the splinter does not come to the skin’s surface, soak it for another 15 minutes.
Method 7: Epsom Salt
Epsom salt comes loaded with a number of therapeutic and healing properties. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and exfoliator. Epsom salt also comes in handy for removing splinters. It works wonders for deeply lodged slivers.
It works by increasing the osmotic pressure on the skin, thus drawing foreign bodies toward its surface.
Things you'll need:
- Epsom salt
Single-Step Method: Apply Epsom salt on the affected area & cover it with a bandage
- Put Epsom salt on the affected area.
- Cover the area with a bandage or tape.
- Pull off the bandage.
- Either the splinter will come out along with it, or it will come closer to the skin’s surface and can be pulled out with tweezers.
Method 8: Potato
Yes, potatoes can help you get rid of stubborn splinter stuck in your skin! The moisture in the potato pushes the splinter to the surface of the skin.
Things you’ll need:
- Raw potato
- Bandage or tape
Single-Step Method: Place a slice of potato on the affected area
- Place a slice of raw potato on the area with the splinter. The fleshy part of the slice should be touching the skin.
- Apply a little pressure on the slice and keep it there for some time. It may take anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight for this method to work.
- You may use a bandage or tape to hold the potato slice in place.
- The splinter will pop out easily when you remove the potato slice.
If this method does not work on the first try, give it another shot using a thinner slice of potato.
Method 9: Bread and Milk Poultice
Another method that can help you remove a splinter is a poultice made of bread and milk. Many people learned this age-old method from their grandmothers.
Things you’ll need:
- Bandage, gauze or tape
Single-Step Method: Tape a piece of bread soaked in warm milk on the affected area
- Heat the milk until it is slightly warm.
- Pour the warm milk into a bowl.
- Break off a piece of the bread.
- Dip it in the bowl until it is soaked with milk.
- Place the moistened piece of bread on the affected area.
- Use a bandage, piece of gauze or tape to hold it in place.
- Leave it on the splintered area for as long as you can.
- The mixture will effortlessly draw out the sliver.
Method 10: Banana Peel
Another tried-and-true method to remove splinters without pain is using a banana peel on the splintered area. Banana peel contains enzymes that will help bring the splinter to the skin’s surface.
Single-Step Method: Place the banana peel on the affected area for up to 15 minutes
- Place the banana peel (white side facing toward your skin) on the splintered area.
- Keep it in place using tape.
- Leave it on for 5 to 15 minutes. If needed, you may leave the peel on for a longer period.
- Remove the peel and pull out the sliver using tweezers.
Method 11: Honey
Honey is a natural antibiotic and comes with therapeutic and antiseptic properties. It helps in removing splinters effortlessly and painlessly.
Single-Step Method: Apply honey on the affected area
- Apply a generous amount of honey on the splintered area.
- The honey will draw the sliver out.
Tips to keep in mind
- Drawing salve also helps deal with splinters by softening the skin around the affected area and exposing the sliver so it can be pulled out easily.
- Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to bring the splinter to the surface of the skin.
- Chan C, Salam GA. Splinter Removal. AAFP Home. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0615/p2557.html. Published June 15, 2003.
- How to remove a splinter. Employment and benefits | American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/injured-skin/splinters.
- Cardia, Gabriel Fernando Esteves S-F, Euclides S, et al. Effect of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Essential Oil on Acute Inflammatory Response. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2018/1413940/. Published March 18, 2018.