Getting a splinter under your toenail can be incredibly uncomfortable. It can happen almost anywhere on the body, but getting one underneath a nail can cause excruciating pain, as the foreign object forces the nail plate away from its bed.
Splinters can be small fragments of wood, metal, plastic or glass. They become accidentally lodged in your skin when handling certain objects. Many people experience splinters on their hands, for example, when handling wood that hasn’t been sanded properly.
It’s easy to see how someone might get a splinter. If you’re walking around on a wooden floor that hasn’t been sanded or finished, a tiny fragment of that wood could get lodged in an uncomfortable position. As well as causing enormous pain, it could affect your mobility.
Fortunately, there are lots of different ways you can remove a splinter under your toenail. From using tweezers to a variety of home remedies that help loosen the fragment, you can have your toe back to normal in no time. Read on to discover some effective at-home treatments.
Table of Contents:
- 1 What Are the Risks Associated with Toenail Splinters?
- 2 Home Remedies to Remove Splinters
- 3 Step-By-Step Guide To Removing Toenail Splinters With Tweezers
- 4 Aftercare Tips for Removing Your Toenail Splinter
- 5 Read Our Latest Posts:
What Are the Risks Associated with Toenail Splinters?
Most people think of splinters as very unpleasant – but ultimately not dangerous or serious. They can cause pain and discomfort, but they’re not likely to have any severe repercussions.
However, there are some complications which can arise. These can include the following:
- Infection. If a splinter is left for too long with no attempt at removal, it can become infected. Any infection can be dangerous and can be accompanied by unpleasant side-effects. These may include pain, swelling, redness and occasionally smelly discharge or pus from the affected area. If an infection isn’t treated promptly, it could spread and cause a severe issue in the rest of the body.
- Interference with mobility. If the splinter under your toenail is very large, it can affect your ability to move around comfortably. You may be unable to put pressure on the affected foot, which can cause problems in your daily life – especially at work, or if you’re looking after children.
- Toenail splinters can force the nail plate to rise from the nail bed. As well as being extremely uncomfortable, this can create an opening for fungal toenail infections. Once a fungal infection takes hold of a toenail, it can take months to get rid of entirely.
Some of these complications are deeply unpleasant. It’s essential that you remove a splinter fast to prevent any of these side effects from happening.
Home Remedies to Remove Splinters
Now that we understand how vital it is to remove a splinter quickly, we can take a look at some of the most effective remedies and removal techniques. Many of these methods will involve ingredients you probably have in your home already.
If you notice any signs of infection (inflammation, increased pain, pus or discharge), seek medical attention immediately. But if your toenail splinter is nothing more than an inconvenience that you’d rather be without, read on for efficient removal methods.
One method to get rid of splinters on the skin is to use duct tape. If your splinter is sticking out of the end of your nail, you can also use this method. It’s vital to use duct tape rather than any other lesser tape – the adhesive on duct tape is very strong. It’s also commonly used to help get rid of verrucae on their feet.
First, cover the splinter with the duct tape. The sticky side should be touching the splinter. Leave it for up to half an hour to allow the splinter to stick properly to the tape. Then, slowly peel away the duct tape. The splinter should come away with it. If it was just a shallow splinter, you shouldn’t feel any pain.
Soaking your toe in vinegar (white vinegar is best) is an effective way to soften up the skin around the nail and help the splinter become loose. If the splinter is embedded deeply under your nail, this method can help bring it towards the surface – you could then use the duct tape method or grab it with tweezers.
All you need to do is soak your foot in white vinegar for about half an hour. The smell might not be ideal, but it’ll be worth it when your toenail is splinter-free. Soaking the toe will soften up the skin and the fingernail, giving you a little more maneuverability to reach under the nail and get hold of the splinter.
If you find that this method doesn’t bring the splinter to the surface, you can try again. Place your hand in warm water for a few minutes to soften the skin up even further, and then return it to the vinegar for double impact.
If swelling and redness around your toenail are preventing you from reaching the splinter, there’s a solution. Charcoal is an excellent absorbent. It can remove toxic particles from the area.
Here is a quick guide:
- Using one cup of water and 1-3 tablespoons of charcoal powder, create a paste.
- You should heat the mixture to ensure it thickens properly, rather than remaining runny.
- Once the combination is at the right consistency, apply it to a clean cloth or piece of gauze.
- This should be wrapped around the toe and left overnight.
During the night, the charcoal works to get rid of swelling and redness, which may help you to gain better access to the splinter.
Most people associate hot wax with hair removal, but it can work for splinters too. If you have a little piece of the splinter poking out of your nail, the wax can grip it and give you a little leverage to help pull it out.
Here’s how to remove a toenail splinter:
- Heat up a pot of hair removal wax – you’ll only need a small amount.
- Apply the warm (not hot) wax over the splinter, covering the exposed splinter.
- Then place the waxing fabric over the wax before it dries out and pull it off quickly. You may want to seek some assistance with this one – a friend or family member will be able to pull it off much more quickly, minimizing any momentary pain or discomfort.
You can also use baking soda to create a sort of adhesive paste for your toenail splinter. Mix baking soda and water until you create a mixture that is soft, sticky and paste-like. When the mixture is ready, apply it directly to the splintered area and cover it up with gauze, a bandage or a band-aid.
Leave it on overnight, as you would with the charcoal poultice. The paste eventually forms an adhesive, which the splinter should stick to. In the morning, you’ll be able to peel off the band-aid or gauze, and the splinter should slip out with it.
Honey is naturally sticky, so it makes a suitable adhesive for removing toenail splinters. It also has antiseptic properties, which means it will protect the area from infection and bacteria afterward.
Just apply a generous amount of honey to the area where the splinter is. This treatment option works best when there’s a little fragment of the splinter poking out of the nail somewhere. The sticky honey draws out the splinter and should give you something to grip, as well as soothing the area with its antibacterial properties.
Splinters under the toenail can also be addressed with something called ichthammol ointment. It’s also known as drawing salve or black ointment. You can pick this up from most pharmacies – choose a 20% ichthammol solution for the best results.
All you need to do is apply the ointment twice a day, and keep the affected area covered up. This will help draw the splinter out and make it easier for you to grab with tweezers. Be sure to keep the ointment away from your eyes, and avoid going out in temperatures that are above 86 °F – the heat can cause the ointment to irritate your skin.
Using Tweezers To Remove Toenail Splinters
Tweezers are a vital tool that most people have lying around their house. From plucking body hair to helping with first aid, they’re an essential household item. Tweezers are also ideal for getting rid of splinters. For many people, tweezers are the first thing they reach for on realizing they have a splinter.
Using tweezers to help get rid of your toenail splinters is very simple. All you’ll need is the following:
- A bowl of warm water
- Baking soda
- Rubbing alcohol
- Sterile bandage
- Fingernail clippers
You’ll obviously need a pair of tweezers too. Fine-tipped tweezers are the best, as they’ll be able to grip onto the tiniest foreign object embedded into your skin or under your nail.
Step-By-Step Guide To Removing Toenail Splinters With Tweezers
- First, you need to make sure the equipment you’re going to use is completely clean and sterile. Wash your hands thoroughly with an antibacterial soap, and make sure they’re totally dry before you start. You should also clean your tweezers and nail clippers with rubbing alcohol to remove any bacteria that may be lingering there.
- Next, add a tablespoon of baking soda to the warm water and soak your toenail for up to ten minutes, as described in the methods above. This helps to loosen the surrounding skin, to make it easier for the splinter to slide out when you get a grip on it.
- Then you’ll need to trim the nail back as far as you can with it becoming painful. Many people choose to clip a ‘V’ shape into the nail, especially if the nail is embedded quite far down. The point of the ‘V’ should expose the end of the splinter, if at all possible.
- Using the tweezers, gently pull at the skin at the end of your finger. It should come away from the nail plate slightly, giving you access to the area underneath. The V-shaped nail cut will also help here. You should be able to grasp the end of the splinter with your fine-tipped tweezers.
- Get a firm grip of the splinter with your tweezers and pull it gently. It might create a strange sensation as it is dislodged and removed. If you’re squeamish or uncomfortable with these actions, you may want to enlist the help of a friend or family member for this part.
- When you’ve removed the splinter, place a sterile band-aid or bandage over the tip of the finger. You should cover up the whole nail until it has a chance to grow back into its typical half-moon shape, rather than the ‘V’ shape you cut into it.
The only time you should expose the nail is to clean it. You can do this using a variety of antibacterial substances. Tea tree oil, calendula cream, aloe vera and other natural ingredients are great choices to help keep the area free of bacteria and promote healing.
Aftercare Tips for Removing Your Toenail Splinter
Your battle against the splinter doesn’t necessarily end when you dislodge it. Take a look at some of these important aftercare tips:
- Keeping the area clean and free of infection is important. It’s likely the splinter has left behind a puncture wound or an entry point for bacteria. Wash the area regularly – you don’t need to use any expensive antibacterial products or ingredients. Warm salt water will help, as will natural substances like apple cider vinegar or oregano essential oil. Just put these substances in your electric foot spa.
- Ask a friend or family member to help you out with this process. Many people feel deeply uncomfortable about pulling a splinter out of their own skin. When they start to feel pain or discomfort, they can be tempted to back out. You might also be lacking a steady hand, or not have the flexibility to reach down to your toenail with tweezers. Getting someone to help out is the sensible option.
- You must make sure you’ve removed every tiny portion of the splinter. In some cases, a minuscule segment of the splinter remains in the skin after you’ve pulled it out. The skin heals over it, and it can eventually cause a serious infection.
- If you can’t gain access to the splinter at all, even after trying the methods above, you should seek help from a doctor. They may be able to help locate the splinter with an x-ray or ultrasound. In some cases, a local anesthetic is used to get the splinter out without pain or suffering. Do not be tempted to leave the splinter and hope it will resolve itself without any action.
- Similarly, if the splinter is unusually large or deep, you should speak to your doctor about an effective method of removal.
- If your doctor removes the toenail splinter for you, you might need a tetanus shot if you’ve not had one in the last five years.
Almost everyone has experienced a splinter at some point in their lives. We all know how uncomfortable they can be. Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can address this problem and make sure it doesn’t turn into something more serious, by way of infection or another complication.
There are lots of methods you can use to remove a splinter. Each one is completely different and unique, so it’s hard to say which method is best for each. Some splinters will be located at strange angles, while others may be pressing on nerve endings and causing real pain. It’s important to try each of the removal techniques and suggestions to find one that works for your particular situation.
Tweezers are a key tool in getting rid of toenail splinters. You must clean them thoroughly before using them, and try not to poke the area too much – you could make it sorer.
Lastly, when you finally do get rid of the splinter from under your toenail, cleanliness and hygiene are vital. The removal of the splinter leaves a space where bacteria can thrive. The last thing you want after experiencing a splinter is to develop an infection which makes the whole problem worse. Clean the wound regularly, keep it covered with gauze or bandages, and only expose it to the world when you’re sure it’s all appropriately healed.