Ouch! That hurts! You just got a nasty splinter in your foot walking across the deck, time for the first aid kit. Most of the time when you get a splinter you can rely on the good ol’ tweezers method for removal. Pretty straight forward, see the splinter, grab it with the tweezers and pull it out. Finish up with a little antiseptic on the area and you’re golden.
But what about the splinter that breaks off under the skin? Remember when mom used to get the needle out and dig around in there until she got it to pop out enough to then use the tweezers? There has to be a better way right?
Well, there are a few. Drawing salves, ointments to apply over the affected area to draw the splinter (or sticker) to the surface. Just apply and cover with a bandage until it has done its job, this often only takes a few hours. These salves usually contain Ichthammol, which is an ammonium salt of dark sulfonated shale oil has been used successfully as an active pharmaceutical ingredient of natural origin for more than 100 years in treatment of skin disorders.
This works by softening the skin around the affected area and shortens the time that it takes to work naturally to the surface. Granted, if it is in a sensitive location, you may be better off just resorting to moms” ™ method of picking it out with a needle, but if it isn”t particularly painful where it is then use of these types of salves will lessen the damage to the surrounding tissue, which in turn leaves a smaller wound and a lower risk for infection. Remember, it only takes a small spot for bacteria to take hold and cause and infection.
Sometimes a sticker from a plant, like a cactus, or those little sticker plants that may grow in a field or your backyard (we call those and another plant called a bull thistle “Kentucky cactus”) Bull thistle, unfortunately, was my grandmothers favorite flower and I used to get them for her all of the time when I was a kid, to this day when one comes up in my yard I just leave it because it reminds me of her. But man, those things had some thorns!
Another method that is supposed to work similarly to the Ichthammol salves is to use olive oil. I have never tried this method myself, but supposedly you just put a little olive oil on the location of the splinter and allow it to soften the skin just like the Ichthammol salve and then when the splinter or sticker shows itself, remove with tweezers.
I have heard of using duct tape to remove very fine, hair-like stickers from those little cactus plants that people like to keep around the house that have a million little white stickers coming off of them every which way.
I suppose if you tried to pick them out one at a time you would be all day. What an unpleasant thought. The common consensus seems to be a needle and tweezers, and then antiseptic applied to the area. If it is a very large splinter, a shard, or a “stick”, a trip to the emergency room may be in order.