We have been blessed with a child who, at 2 years old, normally listens, who will reason with you when she wants to do something you said no to and who is pretty sturdy. She once kicked a bump on the floor, and said ouch, but moved on and kept on talking and walking, until I realized that her nail had broken backwards and there was blood all over the floor. Yeap, that kind of sturdy. So you can imagine what I expected when she got a splinter on the bottom of her foot and came to me saying “mama, my foot hurts”. I thought “I totally got this”. I pride myself in being able to get splinters from little ones, teens and adults before they even noticing I’m done, so how hard could it be? This splinter has taught me once again that children are amazing beings with mysterious trigger points, and I have been humbled dealing with this one.
It all started well enough. The splinter was very thick and deep under her skin with no protruding parts. I told her what I was going to do, she agreed , I got some tweezers and some peroxide and went to work. Within 3 minutes, this child of mine was screaming as if I were performing major surgery in her without anesthesia. She would kick, scream, say I don’t want it out anymore and then kick some more. I swear, that couldn’t possibly have hurt more than some mild discomfort, since I had barely touched her foot when it began. I started psychoanalyzing it and started blaming it on all the times they pricked her foot after she was born for blood tests for some stupidly mild jaundice. I had to blame someone for the over the top reaction, and blaming the fact that she is 2 years old wasn’t good enough so hospital trauma would have to do!
After 3 failed attempts, and a child who seemed happier limping around the house than letting me take the splinter out, I hit mom groups and sites and started asking for advice.
Some people suggested drawing salve or Ichthammol ointment, but honestly, who has that handy? Others told me to cut the skin with a razor blade. Seriously? While my child is kicking? And some suggested I just wait it out, and that it would come out on its own. Not a bad advice, but the fact that it makes it hard for her to walk and that I will be worried about infection kind of ruled that our for us for this particular case. Had it not been right on the bottom of her foot I might have considered that one.
Below are the 5 best and least traumatic ways to remove a splinter in a complaining child:
1 – Baking Soda
Several moms swear by this one. Make a paste with baking soda and water and apply to the splinter area. Cover with a band-aid and leave for about 30 minutes and take the band-aid off. The splinter should be out or protruding much more, making it easy to pull it out.
2 – Glue or Tape
Pour Elmer’s glue ( or some other non toxic, fast drying glue) on the splinter. wait for it to dry out and pull the glue off. The glue penetrated the hole and sticks to the splinter, which should came out with the glue. Alternatively, you can just put some tape on it and wait a few minutes, then pull it off and hope the splinter came out with it.
3 – Suction
Fill a small bottle almost to the brim with warm water. Press the bottle to the area of the splinter until it creates some suction. It will pull the skin while the steam helps expand the wood and soften the skin, drawing the splinter out. I figured soaking the area and using anything you have that might have some suction could be helpful as well. A medicine syringe came to mind.
4 – Banana Peel or Potato
Cut a piece of banana peel or potato and hold it against the area for a few minutes to an hour. it will help draw the splinter our.
5 – Tweezers and Needle
Disinfect them and use the needle to gently open the upper layer of skin, allowing the splinter to stick out so it can be removed with the tweezers.
So which one did we use?
Well, honestly, the splinter was so deeply embedded that I ended up using what usually works for me, which is the needle and tweezers, but with three changes. Just before she fell asleep, I soaked her feet in warm water, then I did apply a piece of potato for a few minutes. I waited for her to be sound asleep and, with a flashlight, gently picked at the skin with the needle until I could use my nail to push the splinter out somewhat. I used the tweezers to finish the job, and I can say I have never felt as fulfilled about a getting a little piece of wood as I did tonight.
I saved it to show her in the morning. This unusual prize for some patience and research.