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Removing a Splinter

Who hasn't had a splinter at one time or another in their lives? A tiny sliver of glass, a minuscule piece of wood, a slender slice of plastic or metal slides right under the skin and lodges there to cause pain. These splinters might hurt, but if they are removed properly, there will be no infection.

A person knows he or she has a splinter because of the pain at the penetration site. There also might be some swelling and redness. To take out a splinter, follow these step-by-step instructions:

First Things First

Clear glass splinters, by their very nature, are difficult to see, especially if the slivers are tiny. To ensure you've gotten all the splinter, look through a magnifying glass under a bright light.

  1. Place the instrument you'll be using to take out the splinter nearby. This is usually a plain sewing needle or a tweezers, or both.
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to make conditions as sterile as possible. Also wash the splinter site.
  3. Sterilize the sewing needle and tweezers you will use to take out the splinter by either dropping them in boiling water for ten minutes or heating them over the flame of a match or lighter. (Wipe off any black carbon deposits with a sterile gauze pad.)
  4. Using the sewing needle or tweezers, gently and carefully brush away the skin around the splinter, layer by layer.
  5. When enough of the splinter is exposed to be able to grab it, use your tweezers and pull it out. If the splinter is small, continue to use the sewing needle, pushing out the splinter from the skin.
  6. Brush the skin with the sewing needle a little more to make sure you've gotten all of the splinter. Think of the needles as a little broom, pushing away the skin tissue surrounding the point of insertion. This is especially important when a sliver of glass is the culprit.
  7. Wash the wound area with water, whether it's bleeding or not. Apply an antibacterial ointment.
  8. Cover the clean wound site with a Band-Aid or gauze pad and tape.

More on: First Aid

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to First Aid Basics © 1996 by Stephen J. Rosenberg, M.D. and Karla Dougherty. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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