How to get splinters out of a toddler

Removing a splinter from your toddler's finger may be a traumatic experience for both of you, particularly if he freaks out after seeing you approach with a needle. It may be difficult to keep a child of this age still long enough to remove the splinter carefully. Remaining calm, and keeping your child distracted or interested in the procedure goes a long way toward calming the child. Once you remove the splinter painlessly the first time, he will likely remember the episode and not be fearful the next time.

Wash your hands with warm water and an antibacterial soap. Do the same with your toddler's hand, foot or other body part with the splinter in it.

Sit your child in your lap and speak calmly to him about the splinter. Tell him it is not hard to remove and it won't hurt when you take it out. If necessary, ask another adult to hold the child still while attempting to remove the splinter.

Tell the child a funny story to distract him while attempting to remove the splinter. Try involving him in playing a counting game to see how fast you can remove the splinter or ask him to tell you about his favourite things.

Apply a piece of strong, sticky tape over the splinter with the sticky side down. This works well if the splinter is small and part of it is sticking out above the skin. Lift the tape up quickly. Often this is all that is necessary to remove tiny splinters.

Sterilise a pair of tweezers by wiping them with rubbing alcohol and a cotton pad if the tape was not effective.

Grip the splinter with tweezers near the area where it is sticking out from the skin. Pull it out in the direction it is pointing. If the splinter comes out fully, wash the area again and dry it with a soft, clean towel. Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the area with an adhesive bandage.

Wash your hands well with soap and water. Clean the area with the splinter as well.

Sterilise a sharp needle or the opened end of a safety pin with rubbing alcohol and a cotton pad or hot water and soap.

Break the skin over the splinter with the sharp end of the needle. It is helpful to have another adult assist you since many toddlers are afraid of needles.

Lift the end of the splinter out gently with the needle or tweezers. If it is near the top layer of skin, you can try lifting it out with the sticky tape method first.

If you cannot reach the splinter, soak the area in warm, soapy water for about 10 or 15 minutes. Sometimes this allows the splinter to come out on its own or by then applying gentle pressure near the splinter.

Wash the area again once the splinter is gone. Dry the area with a clean towel and rub a thin layer of antibiotic ointment on the area. Cover the wound with an adhesive bandage.


If you cannot remove a deeply embedded splinter or if it is near the eye area, take the child to the doctor to have it removed. This prevents infections.

Things You'll Need

  • Antibacterial or other liquid soap
  • Strong, sticky tape
  • Tweezers
  • Soft, clean towel
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton pad
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Adhesive bandage
  • Sharp needle or safety pin
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About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.