My son keeps coming home with splinters. How do I safely remove one? Is there a risk of infection if I don’t get it out?
Climbing on wooden playground equipment and running barefoot on a deck are surefire ways of getting a splinter. Many parents try to remove splinters at home with no success, sometimes pushing them further down. If you think you can grab the splinter easily, go ahead and try, but if it looks difficult, go to a doctor as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to remove. Seeing a doc at day three or four isn’t likely to lead to a successful removal (though the splinter will work its way out with new skin growth after several days or months).
If you’re extracting the splinter yourself, I suggest you first numb the skin with ice. Use tweezers, cleaned with soap and water, alcohol or peroxide. If the splinter is buried deep, cover the area with a hydrogen peroxide–soaked cotton ball or tissue. This may force the splinter to come to the surface, and it helps clean the wound. If part of the splinter is exposed, try removing it with a piece of duct tape or snagging it with a section of pantyhose.
Afterward, clean the area with soap and water, and cover with a bandage to prevent debris from entering. You can also dab on antibiotic ointment to speed healing and prevent infection.