Is There A Painless Way To Remove A Splinter?

December 24, 2014

Broken GlassIn the midst of holiday decorating, a picture frame broke. Cheap and empty, the glass shattered, the frame bent, and I put it directly into the trash. Even being careful, I ended up with a glass shard in my finger.

And suddenly I found myself in the world of figuring out “how to remove a glass splinter”!

Tiny and invisible, my first attempt at removal was the tape method. Nope, even with a couple different tapes already out (part of the decorating) not one of them grabbed it. I’ve used the tape method successfully before on thicker wooden splinters, but it was a no-go on (this) glass.

Next was tweezers. I probably should have sterilized them first with fire or boiling water, but getting the splinter out was top priority (I’m also probably a bit over-confident thanks to my strong immune system, thanks in part to the support I give it!). In the bright bathroom light I was able to see where the glass was—I couldn’t see much of its outline, but I could see a magnified droplet of blood. I have wide tweezers, not pointy ones, so I was able to pinch over a wide area, run my finger out of water, and remove a decent sized glass splinter.

But wait, there’s more! I was pretty sure from the pain there was more under the skin. In my mind I pictured a tiny point, broken off when I removed the big chunk. But unlike regular splinters, I couldn’t see it—there was some redness, but a lot of it came from what I had just done with the tweezers to remove the glass splinter. Same with the pain—it was too broad. So I put a bandaid on, and waited. (Meanwhile, common sense returned, I thought about the unsterilized tweezers, the glass, the redness and pain, and decided to up my immune support with an extra an impromptu dose of MesoSilver).

Even when the inflammation I had caused was gone, there was an occasional twinge of splintery pain (the splinter was right over a joint on my finger). I still wasn’t able to see the splinter, so off to Google I was for alternate modes of removal!

The top two splinter removal techniques, it would seem, are tweezers if you can grab the end (nope, I already removed that), and poking it out with a needle (nope, can’t see it to confirm where to poke—but I have done that in the past, and it’s worked for wood splinters!).

At this point, I’m getting a little worried—the entry point was so small, I can’t tell where it was anymore, and I was thinking about all the weird historical medical oddities that this could be like. In frontier days, there was a woman who missed a sewing needle before doing her washing (outside, in the washing bin). Traveling to a doctor would take a day or more, and it didn’t seem to be life-threatening problem. Years later (the story goes) she passed the needle through her knee. She’s lucky it missed her heart. While I know the most likely scenario is my skin pushing the splinter out as old cells die and new cell form underneath, I can’t even see the thing to guess where or how deep it is!

Enter another strategy courtesy of Google—a taped on banana peel. Advocates say it has nutrients to support healthy skin, enzymes to break things down, and it should eventually pull the splinter out by catching it in the peel, overnight if you’re lucky, a few days if you weren’t.

Having bananas on hand, I gave it a try.

Your skin is really absorbent, so it may have offered some nutritional support, although I’m sure it was minimal. What it did offer my skin far better than a band-aid was moisture. Suddenly, I could see the entry wound again, and had hope the splinter would work it’s way out.

I also wash my hands several times a day (small child and lots of cooking will do that!). I thought the taped on banana peel worked better under those conditions than a band-aid.

Two days, and I felt like it may be helping—but can’t confirm that, since I don’t know what would have happened with no band-aid. I think having moist skin made things easier, at least. And the banana stuck around the wound, so I could keep track of it.

I gave up on the banana peel for a few hours and went back to a band-aid. When I next checked, I could see a red vein that I was pretty sure was the glass splinter. A closer look, and I was pretty sure I could see the splinter head (again going off reflected light and magnified blood). Under running water (in case the tweezers didn’t catch it—didn’t want anyone to get re-splintered!) I picked off some callous-like skin (from the last removal) and pulled out the rest of the glass splinter—longer than I had thought! And then let it wash away.

Things worked out well, but I kind of wish I had stuck with the banana peel. If I hadn’t randomly checked just then, it might have fallen out and got someone’s foot, or more likely, broke again! I think the banana peel would have upheld it’s claim to “catch” the splinter.

Glass splinters are incredibly tricky—so I hope my unfortunate need to test the internet’s top recommendations will help others who find themselves stuck!

(PS I’m told by someone who frequently gets metal splinters that a credit card or (shudder) razor blade pressed up toward the tip of the finger can push a splinter out, but I had no luck with that, either. I did it between banana peels.)

What’s your go-to splinter removal method?

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