Painless ways to remove splinters

Unless you’ve been hiding all your life, you’ve most likely had a splinter. And when you did, you probably either had your mum or some other wisenheimer close by to tell you how to pull it out.

My stepfather’s go-to, get-a-splinter-out solution was to use a chisel. Although he was a burly builder with hands like concrete and skin like sandpaper.

My solution is to cut along the splinter line with a scalpel or a pin, then pry it out with the edge of the same scalpel or pin. Or with a chisel, if I have one handy.

Turns out most people have their own remedy for removing splinters, many of which involve cutting or digging with sharp instruments. While some of these methods might work, some people just shouldn’t be trusted with tools, and the results can be disastrous.

But you don’t always need a sharp instrument to remove a splinter, and there are plenty of other things lying around the house that’ll do the job just as well. Take these six suggestions for simple and painless removal of splinters.

1. Banana peel
Some people swear that banana peels are an overlooked wonder of the fruit world. They can whiten your teeth, shine your shoes and, turns out, can even help to remove splinters. Cut a small piece of banana skin and place it over the affected area, then tape or band-aid it. The enzymes in the peel soften your skin and pull the splinter to the surface, often within minutes. Sometimes you’ll only need your fingernails to pull out the rest of the way, otherwise grab those trusty tweezers.

2. Potato slice
Place a potato slice, skinless side down, onto the splinter-affected area. Wrap with a bandage, leave overnight and the next day you should be able to pull out the offending wooden sliver.

3. Epsom salts
Dissolve a cup of Epsom salts in a warm bath or large bucket, then dip in the affected body part and wait for the liquid to draw the splinter to the surface. Then grab some tweezers and gently tug it out the rest of the way.

4. Baking soda
Clean the affected area with soap and water, then mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with a bit of water to make a paste. Smear the paste onto the splinter, then cover with a bandage for 24 hours when the splinter should come to the surface for easier extraction.

5. Vinegar or oil
Some say soaking the splinter in vinegar or olive oil will draw out a splinter. Soak for 20 to 30 minutes, then see if it’s poking out its little wooden head. If so, get to pulling. If not, soak some more.

6. Tape
Sometimes the splinter will be exposed. If that’s the case, grab some sticky tape – the stickier the better – and stick it over the splinter. Leave for a couple of minutes, then pull off the tape. Hopefully, the splinter will have come with it.

Do you have any homestyle remedies for removing splinters?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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