The People's Perspective on Medicine

Household Glue Offers Remedy for Easy Splinter Removal

Using regular white (school) glue is a clever way facilitate easy splinter removal. Find out how using Elmer's glue or a over the counter wart remover could get a painful splinter out easily.
Splinters splintered wood

Have you ever struggled trying to get a splinter out of a finger or toe? It can be a challenge, not to mention a pain. That is why we are enthusiastic about a technique for easy splinter removal.

Remedy for Easy Splinter Removal:

Q. I am looking for a remedy to remove splinters. I heard about instant glue, but I am not sure how to use it.

A. Few things are more annoying (and painful) than getting a splinter. If you have little kids, you know how hard it is to get them to hold still while you try to work a splinter out with tweezers. Please do NOT use instant (crazy or super) glue to attempt to remove a splinter. That is likely to seal the splinter in and make it even harder to extract.

White Glue to the Rescue:

Perhaps you intended to ask about common white glue.

We heard from one reader who described this tactic:

“I had a splinter in my heel area and used white Elmer’s Glue and a bandage for a few hours and the splinter came out when I pulled the glue off. I thought this wouldn’t work but I was pleasantly surprised.”

The trick is to pull the glue off after it has dried–but in the opposite direction to the path the splinter took going in. This way the glue has a chance to pull the splinter out the way it went in.

Wart Plaster for Easy Splinter Removal:

Another way to remove splinters is to place a salicylic acid wart plaster over the splinter. After a day or two the splinter should work its way out or be easily removed (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, April, 1989).

If you like these home remedies for easy splinter removal, you may also be interested in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I jumped backwards off the road last week when a speeding truck came too close, and fell right onto a cactus. My back end, legs, and arms were full of spines and glochids which I couldn’t see to remove. I first pulled out what I could by hand, then tried duct tape, and finally glue all over my butt (not a pretty picture). Each helped a little, but none got out all of the glochids (hair-like prickles). They are gradually being reabsorbed. If this happens to you, do your best to remove what you can, and then be sure to keep the area clean to avoid infection.

We have successfully used “Scotch” tape, duct tape, or masking tape–whichever happened to be close at hand, for removing a fresh splinter. This works especially well for children as it is not scary for them, compared to approaching them with tweezers. The first time I tried it on my five year old son, I whisked the piece of tape off and it worked, so he excitedly said, “Do it again!” So I put another little piece of tape on him and pulled it off and he was thrilled, as if it was a magic trick.

I used the baking soda method and left it on overnight. It worked for me. The splinter had been in for days. I had tried a needle but couldn’t budge it.

Duct tape works great

I managed to get a piece of dry deck material lodged in a big toe that not one – but two nurses failed to find, never mind pull out. A nurse friend of mine suggested wrapping the toe with duct tape and leaving it there overnight. Imagine my surprise when the next morning removing the duct tape also pulled out a large chunk of wood that was clearly deck wood. Duct tape – good for just about everything!

White glue or carpenter’s glue… any hypoallergenic glue used to adhere wood or paper will work especially on those splinters that are too small to be seen but you sure can feel them. This is because these glues adhere especially well to cellulose, the main substance in wood or wood products. Splinters are made of the same stuff. Apply the glue liberally to the area and let it cure fully, about a half hour or so. Then peel off and voilà! No more splinter.

Have used Duct Tape for years.

You pull the glue against the direction that the splinter entered. I personally use a sewing needle, dipping the tip in alcohol or holding the tip in a match flame for a second to sterilize it. Then I carefully pick the skin away from the end of the splinter and slowly work my way along the length of the splinter until all or most of the splinter is exposed. I then grasp the splinter with tweezers and gently pull it out. I then pour hydrogen peroxide on the opening. One may or may not put a bandaid on it.

WLLHARRINGTON JULY 2, 2014 AT 11:45 PM has got it absolutely right. Sterilized needle then pick away at the overlaying skin layer, then tweezers and disinfectant. Any splinter shallow enough to be pulled out with white glue (after it dries) should be removable with tweezers alone.

HOW do you pull a splinter out in the opposite direction that it entered?

I heard recently that putting baking soda on the splinter and then a band-aid, waiting a bit and peeling it off works too.

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