The People's Perspective on Medicine

Will Duct Tape Help Remove a Splinter?

When you need to remove a splinter, home remedies like duct tape or white glue can be helpful.

If you’ve ever had to remove a splinter, you know how frustrating and difficult it can be. Whether you use a needle or a sharp-tipped tweezer to try to pry it out, fishing around can be painful. You won’t always succeed in coaxing the offending bit of wood out of your finger or foot. Is there an easier way to manage this problem?

Duct Tape to Remove a Splinter:

Q. I got a huge splinter in the end of my big toe. I couldn’t get it out and neither could my physician assistant or her nurse.

On the recommendation of a friend who is also a nurse, I put duct tape around the toe. The next morning when I took the tape off, there was the hunk of wood stuck to the tape. I am seriously grateful for the tip and want to share it with your readers.

A. Using a needle or a tweezer to get a splinter out of your skin can be tricky. What’s more, it’s often painful. After a time or two, children become unwilling to submit to this kind of first aid.

Wart Plaster for Splinters:

In addition to duct tape, we have heard about using a salicylic acid plaster of the sort sold for warts. After a day or two, the splinter works its way to the surface, according to an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (April, 1989). At that point, you can easily grab it and pull it out.

White Glue to Remove a Splinter:

White glue is another splinter-removal tactic. The trick is to let the glue dry over the splinter. Then pull it off in the opposite direction the splinter took going in.

Salve That Can Help:

Alexis shared this story:

“I have done considerable carpentry and have accumulated my share of splinters. Usually I can remove them with a needle or rubbing across them with a credit card. However I had one go straight in. It was not visible.

“Though I dug around with a needle, I could not remove it. A friend’s recommendation worked: PRID, a product available from Walmart. It’s a salve, so I put a touch of it on a bandage and changed it every day. In about 5 days, the salve ‘drew’ the splinter to the surface and with a little pressure on each side, it popped out of the skin. Problem solved.”

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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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  • Copelan R, "Chemical removal of splinters without epidermal toxic effects." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, April, 1989. DOI: 10.1016/s0190-9622(89)80157-4
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Dr. Graedon, reading this splinter removal article reminded me of something I bought 15 years ago for splinter removal (still have it, toss it?) Sticky dark brown stuff and then bandaged, but it worked like a charm. Duct tape is a lot more accessible and doesn’t have an expiration date.

The worse splinters are those fine needles from cacti, which is why I got rid of them all. Very carefully. You need a magnifying glass and are lucky if you get them out with tweezers. I used duct tape, and it works very nicely!

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