Papercuts and slivers are small wounds that hurt way too much for their size.
I’ve learned to patch up the paper cuts with liquid bandages, which usually helps quite a bit. Working in the garden and around the woodpile (often without gloves), I pick up slivers in my fingers on a regular basis.
The most annoying ones are the itty-bitty little buggers you can barely see, let alone grab with tweezers. Every time you grab or brush against something, they poke, but it’s almost impossible to remove them.
The easiest way I’ve found to remove these slivers is super simple, but it took me a while to figure it out, so I thought I’d share it in case others haven’t figured it out yet.
Prevent Slivers in the First Place
The easiest way to remove a sliver is to prevent it from getting in there in the first place! This is easy to do, as there are many precautions you can take to avoid getting injured.
For example, you might want to start by wearing shoes outside. This will protect your feet from splinters as well as other hazards. When you are gardening, working with wood, or other sliver-prone materials, make sure you wear gloves, too.
General Tips for Dealing with a Splinter
Splinters can be particularly irritating, especially for little kids. The best thing you can do is to deal with your splinters immediately – start by cleaning the area, gently, with some warm water. You can add some soap if you’d like, but this is not necessary.
After cleaning the area, pat dry with a clean towel. Then, you should be able to see the splinter better.
If you can see the tip of the splinter, you should be able to remove it easily. Often this can be done with a pair of sanitized tweezers. However, if you can’t, you can often use a needle to puncture the skin and then remove the exposed part of the splinter with tweezers.
Just don’t forget to clean the area again after you have removed the splinter!
While using tweezers is the easiest way to get rid of a splinter or sliver, it’s not always possible to do this. You might not have tweezers, or your tweezers might be too big to grab the small pieces of the sliver. Luckily, there are alternative methods you can try.
You can easily remove a splinter with some tape. Both scotch and duct tape will work. All you need to do is cover the splinter with a piece of tape and slowly peel the tape off in the direction that is opposite of the direction in which the splinter entered your skin.
The tape will stick to the edge of the sliver and pull it out as you remove the tape (just be advised that this doesn’t work as well on big splinters or those that are deeply embedded in your skin).
You can make a paste out of baking soda and water to remove splinters, too. Using equal parts of both, make a thick paste. Then, cover your skin near the splinter and place a bandage over the area.
Leave it alone for a day. The solution will pull the splinter to the surface, making it easier for you tog rasp the sliver with tweezers.
You can also use Elmer’s glue to pull out a splinter! All you need to do is cover up the area around the sliver with some glue.
Let it dry and harden completely, because if you try to pull the glue away too soon, it will not work.
Once it’s fully dry, peel it back. If the splinter isn’t in there too deep, it should come out when you pull back the glue. Please be advised that this method works best if the splinter is near the surface of your skin and isn’t too big.
Hydrogen peroxide (as well as white vinegar) will not only work to sterilize the area around the splinter but will also help remove it, too. All you need to do is pour some of either solution around the splinter.
The peroxide will bubble and move the splinter toward the surface of your skin. In just several minutes, you may find that the splinter pops completely out on its own. It can be used for large splinters but doesn’t work as well on deeper slivers.
In addition to hydrogen peroxide, there are other solutions you can mix up to draw out the splinter, too. These include:
- Epsom salt and water
- Lavender oil
There are some garden solutions that people rely on when it comes to removing splinters, too!
Some people swear by using a slice of potato or onion to draw out a splinter. You’ll need to secure the food to your skin using a cloth, a bandage, or some other kind of material.
It needs to stay attached to your skin for at least a few hours, but ideally overnight. The splinter will rise to the surface and you should be able to pull it out with ease.
Add a Banana Peel
Banana peels can supposedly get rid of your slivers, too. All you need to do is take a section of a ripe banana peel and tape the inside of it to the area with the splinter.
The enzymes will soften your skin and help the splinter move closer to the surface. While a few minutes is really all you need, you can leave the peel on overnight for best results.
The Easiest Way to Remove a Sliver
If you can grab the end with tweezers and back it out, that’s the fastest way to clear a sliver.
For those that can’t be grabbed because they are just under the skin or too tiny, using a bandage and ointment overnight on the affected area almost always yields a sliver that can be gently squeezed out the next morning.
An oil-based ointment (such as commercial antibiotic ointment or homemade oil-based salve) will moisturize and swell the skin.
If there’s an infection, it’ll generally be brought to the surface.
(Pink camouflage bandages are optional. The boys used all the green camo bandages. Skin tone works just fine. J) Fluid builds up around the sliver, and – POP – out it comes with a pinch or squeeze. It’s a little bit sore at first, but this approach is much less painful than going in digging with a needle (which used to be my mom’s approach).
This works great on fingers and toes, for wood slivers, fiberglass slivers, plant slivers and tiny thorns as well.
Sliver is gone
I recommend cleaning the area again after removing the splinter. You can add some petroleum jelly to help the area heal, too.
And that’s all there is to it. Sometimes simple is best.
When to Go to the Doctor’s
Nine times out of ten, your splinters can easily be removed at home and there’s really no need to seek any kind of medical attention. There are some exceptions to this, though.
For example, if the splinter is very large, very deep, or located in or near your eye, it might be time to contact a doctor.
Similarly, any splinter wounds that show signs of infection, like swelling, redness, warmth, or increased pain, need to be treated by a medical professional. If you haven’t had a recent tetanus booster (within five years) you will need a booster, too.
Signs of infection include a swollen area around the sliver, pus, skin that is warm to the touch, or skin that is extremely painful.
If your splinter entered the skin vertically or has broken during attempts to remove it, it might be time to get to the doc, too, and the same rule applies if you’ve tried unsuccessfully to remove it several times.
If you try all of these tips and still can’t get your sliver out, it may be worth a visit to the doctor.
They can get it out and ensure you are not in any pain. They can also check you for infection and administer treatment in case there’s one present.
This is a post by my cool pal, Laurie of Common Sense Homesteading.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you may also find other posts in the Home Remedies Series on Common Sense Homesteading useful.
Note: This post is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. In case of serious injury, please see a trained healthcare professional.
Laurie and her family live in rural northeast Wisconsin in an environmentally friendly/energy efficient/accessible/new fangled/old fashioned home with solar panels, a root cellar, and an herbal apothecary. She has a BS in Math/Physics and an MS in Mechanical Engineering. She is currently employed as a wife and mother with a passion for natural healing, homesteading, and gardening. She and her husband, August, homeschool their two boys. You can connect with her at www.commonsensehome.com, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CommonSenseHome.
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.