How to treat a child’s splinter and when to go to the doctor

(Creative Commons)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Splinters are a common, often painful, part of growing up. Sometimes, coaxing a child into letting you remove a splinter is tougher than the actual injury, but there are times when you should take your child to a doctor.

Dr. Ryan Redman with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says types of foreign bodies often embedded in a child’s skin can include wood or organic materials like cactus spines, splinters, thorns, and toothpicks. Metallic items like bullets, BBs. nails, sewing needles, pins and tacks can also become embedded in the skin, as can fiberglass spicules, fishhooks, glass, pencil lead and plastic.

To remove a splinter at home, wash your hands and then the area around the splinter with soap and warm water. Sterilize tweezers and needle by dipping them in boiling water then wipe with a clean cotton ball or alcohol pad. If the splinter is sticking through the skin, firmly grip with the tweezers, and pull slowly and gently at the same angle the splinter went in.

If the tip of the splinter isn’t sticking out, gently scrape the skin away from the splinter with the needle until there’s enough to grab with tweezers. After the splinter is removed, wash the area again and cover it with a bandage.

Seek medical care if the splinter or other foreign body is deeply embedded or causing severe pain, the foreign body has a barb like a fishhook, the foreign body is a BB, you can’t remove it, the site looks infected or fever occurs.

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