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Splinters are a hazard of life, and most people deal with them now and again. It is often quite easy to remove a splinter, as long as a steady hand is used. Many splinter removal techniques also work for slivers of glass. In either case, if the area looks infected, it is an excellent idea to go to a doctor, if possible, so that the splinter can be removed while the infection is treated. Signs of infection include hotness, painfulness, and pus around the area of the splinter.
Before you remove a splinter, start by washing your hands and sterilizing any tools which will be used. Alcohol, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, and betadine can all be used for this purpose. The area around the splinter should also be washed, unless the splinter is sticking out, in which case you do not want to risk breaking it off, thus making your task much more complicated.
The easiest kind of splinter to remove is one which has not fully penetrated the skin. In this case, remove a splinter by gently grasping it with tweezers and steadily pulling it back out of the skin. Since most splinters start out this way, it is an excellent idea to remove a splinter as soon as one is noticed. Rapid response also ensures that the splinter is not in the skin long enough to irritate the area, potentially making it hard to remove the offending object.
If the end of a splinter has slipped below the skin, it is still possible to remove a splinter without too much pain. Start by gently squeezing the area around the splinter to see if it can be pushed up out of the skin. If this does not work, there are several angles of approach, ranging from deploying a needle to using white glue.
On the painless end of the scale, try soaking the area in a warm saline solution. Warm water can pucker up the skin, forcing the splinter out. Warm saline may also ease irritation and pain. You can also try smearing white glue onto the area, allowing it to dry, and then gently pulling the glue off. Sometimes the glue pulls the splinter out with it.
If these measures do not work to remove a splinter, you may have to resort to more invasive tactics. In some cases, it is possible to remove a splinter by using a needle. The needle can either be used to make a small opening for tweezers to fit into, or it can be gently pushed into the splinter to snag it and pull it out. Some people use a straight razor in much the same way. Try not to get too aggressive when using these techniques, because you do not want to end up with more pain than you started with.
Ultimately, some splinters stubbornly resist removal despite all efforts. They will naturally work their way out of the body eventually. In this case, wash the area well and keep an eye on it as the body slowly rejects the splinter. If any signs of infection appear, go to a doctor.
I could never get the glue method to work, but I had a little league coach who kept a piece of ladies nylons in the first aid kit to remove the splinters we all got from the wooden bats. He would pull the nylons along the skin where the splinter was -- in the opposite way that it came in --- and the end would catch on the nylons. When he had the end, he would grab it with the tweezers and pull it out. Great post.
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