Remember your first splinter? Remember seeing that tiny fragment of wood under the skin of your finger and thinking that the world was coming to an end? Remember how pulling the darn thing out was more traumatic than anything else in life?
Splinters can definitely be a source of anxiety for children. Maybe it’s just the sight of a foreign object in your skin, the skin that just moments earlier seemed impenetrable. Or maybe it’s because tools such as tweezers and needles, neither of which are very comforting to look at, are suddenly being used to get the splinter out. Plus, it never helps for a child to watch the removal process. When it comes to pain for a child, seeing is believing.
Whatever the reason, splinters are sore subjects for kids. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your next splinter removal experience goes as smoothly as possible:
Keep the area clean. It’s a good idea to start by having your child wash their hands with soap and warm water. Whether we realize it or not, there is now an opening in the skin that could allow bacteria in causing infection. It’s important to make sure the area around the splinter is clean.
Go slow. Splinters are painful and might cause crying. When our children our crying from pain, our first thought is to stop the pain as quickly as possible. But with splinters, we have to be careful. Moving too quickly might cause further injury or simply push the splinter in further. Be patient…take a few deep breaths and then proceed with the delicate task at hand.
Tweezers or a needle? There are different methods of removing a splinter based on its size and how deep it is. If there’s enough of it sticking out of the skin, tweezers might do the trick. If the splinter is too deep or too small, you may have more luck removing it with a needle. Either way, make sure you’ve properly sterilized the tweezers or needle by immersing it in boiling water and then wiping it clean with clean cotton.
Take a break. After 20 minutes or so of picking and prodding to get the splinter out, it may be a good idea to just take a break for a few minutes. This might help your child settle down a bit and will give you some time come up with a new strategy.
Treat the injury. Once the needle is out, your child should feel instant relief from the pain. There will still be some tenderness where the splinter was and it’s probably a good idea to treat wound with some antibiotic ointment and a bandage. The truth is, your child isn’t going to be satisfied until they see a band-aid on their finger anyway.
Obviously, if it’s large piece of wood that has caused a more serious injury, you will want to get your child to a doctor or emergency room right away.