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Splinters

What is a splinter?

A splinter is a sharp sliver of wood, glass, or other debris that is lodged underneath the skin. Removal of small, superficial splinters can usually be done at home.

First-aid for splinters

Recommendations for taking care of splinters include the following:

  • Calm your child and let him or her know that you can help.

  • Wash your hands.

  • Clean the area around the splinter with soap and water.

  • Use a sterilized needle or tweezers.

  • If part of the splinter is sticking out of the skin, gently try to pull the splinter out using the sterilized tweezers.

  • If the splinter is close to the surface but underneath the skin, gently prick the skin over the splinter with the needle and try to pull it out using the tweezers.

  • If the splinter is deeply imbedded or you are unable to remove it after one or two tries, call your child's healthcare provider.

  • Observe the area for signs of infection such as increased warmth, swelling, redness, drainage, or pain. If you notice any signs of infection, call your child's healthcare provider. Antibiotics may be needed.

  • If the splinters are very small, painless and superficial, you can leave them alone. Eventually they will make their way out of the skin. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Adler, Liora C., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
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