Health Library

What Are Splinters?

A splinter is a sharp sliver of wood, glass or other debris that is lodged underneath the skin.

Removal of small, superficial splinters can usually be done at home.

First Aid for Splinters

  • Calm you child and let him / her know that you can help.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Wash the area with soap and water. If splinter is wood, be careful not to soak in water or splinter may expand, making removal more difficult.
  • Clean and sterilize needle or tweezers before using. First clean well with soap and water to remove any debris. Then wipe with rubbing alcohol or heat under a flame. Dry and cool the needle or tweezers before using.
  • If part of the splinter is sticking out of the skin, gently try to pull the splinter out using the sterilized tweezers, taking care to pull in same direction that the splinter entered the skin.
  • If the splinter is close to the surface but underneath the skin, gently prick the skin over the splinter with the sterilized needle and try to pull it out using the sterilized tweezers. You may ice the skin prior to pricking to help decrease pain.
  • After removal of splinter, rewash the area well with soap and water. To further reduce the risk of infection, you may apply antibiotic ointment and bandage.

When to Call the Doctor

  • If the splinter is deeply imbedded or you are unable to remove it after several tries, call your child's physician.
  • Check the area for signs of infection, such as increased warmth, swelling, redness, drainage, or pain. If you notice any signs of infection, call your child's physician.


Some splinters may be left alone without any care needed. Splinters that are superficial, tiny, numerous and pain-free will eventually be shed naturally with the normal skin shedding process.

Last Updated 10/2021

Reviewed By Leah Carnes, RN

Visiting Cincinnati Childrens.

Cincinnati Children’s has primary care services at locations throughout Greater Cincinnati.