Splinter

They are tiny, incredibly frustrating to remove, and most of all, very painful. So what are these small, painful objects? Splinters. The feared risk of working with wood, plastic or metal is the possibility of having small fragments break off and become embedded in your skin. If you’ve ever experienced a splinter before, then you are aware of how difficult it can be to remove them from your skin. Taking it out swiftly, cleanly, and in one piece is the desired outcome, which ultimately can reduce the risk of leaving any shards left behind.

In the attempt to properly remove the splinter, it is common to leave pieces behind in the skin, depending on how deep the splinter is. When the splinter’s pieces are buried in the skin, the body begins to identify them as something foreign, thus attacking the invader to try to keep you safe. As a result, inflammation can occur around the area, causing pain.

Removing a splinter cleanly can help prevent these problems. In order to properly remove them, follow these simple tips. It is important to note that if the splinter is in a difficult location it may be tough to remove and it is likely that it will become infected if it is not removed correctly.

Soften the Skin

Skin

If you cannot see the edge of the splinter sticking out of the skin, thoroughly soak the area in warm water for a few minutes to soften the skin. If the splinter is in your finger or foot, you can submerge it in water. For larger areas like the legs or arms, try using a warm compress.

Gather Your Tools

Needle

Find a thin needle and wipe down the area with rubbing alcohol to sterilize it. Use the tip of the needle to poke a small hole in the skin above the edge of the splinter to access it. Avoid digging, as it can create a wound that may quickly become infected. If the splinter is still not easily accessible, visit your doctor instead to make sure the splinter is properly removed.

Pull It Out

Pull

Once the edge of the splinter is visible, use tweezers to grab it as close to the skin as possible. After doing so, pull it in the direction the splinter is sticking out. Be careful not to pull it in the opposite direction, as you can run the risk of bending the splinter and splitting it. Avoid squeezing the splinter out of the skin, as it can make matters worse and cause the splinter to break.

Related: 8 Skin Bumps You Should Never Pop

Once you have removed the splinter completely, clean the area with soap and water and apply some Vaseline to create a barrier that will keep bacteria from entering the wound. You can also cover it with a Band-Aid. If it becomes red, swollen, or painful, you should see a doctor to determine if it has become infected.