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First Aid - Splinter (Skelf) Treatment

A splinter (skelf) in finger


Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime, and dealing with splinters (skelfs) is a common occurrence. While often minor, splinters can cause discomfort and, if left untreated, lead to infections or other complications. It's essential to know how to treat a splinter promptly and correctly. In this blog post, we'll explore the UK guidance on first aid splinter treatment to ensure you're equipped with the knowledge to handle these situations effectively.

1. Assessing the Situation:

Before treating a splinter, it's important to assess the severity of the injury. Determine if the splinter is superficial or deep, and whether it is located near vital areas such as the eye or major blood vessels. Seek professional medical attention for deep or difficult-to-remove splinters, or if there are signs of infection.

2. Preparing for Treatment:

Before removing the splinter, gather the necessary supplies, including clean tweezers, antiseptic solution or wipes, sterile gauze or dressing, adhesive tape, and, if available, a magnifying glass for better visibility. Proper hand hygiene is crucial, so ensure you wash your hands thoroughly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

3. Removing the Splinter:

If the splinter is superficial and doesn't require medical intervention, you can attempt to remove it at home using the following steps:

a. Clean the area around the splinter with an antiseptic solution or wipe to minimize the risk of infection.

b. Sterilize the tweezers by wiping them with an antiseptic solution or dipping them in boiling water for a few minutes.

c. Grip the splinter as close to the entry point as possible, and gently pull it out in the same direction it entered the skin. Avoid applying excessive force or pulling at an angle, as this may cause the splinter to break.

d. If the splinter is embedded deep or is difficult to remove, or if the wound starts bleeding profusely, seek immediate medical assistance.

4. Post-Removal Care:

Once the splinter has been successfully removed, gently squeeze around the the wound to encourage a little bleeding. It's crucial to properly clean and dress the wound to promote healing and prevent infection:

a. Clean the wound gently with mild soap and warm water, or an antiseptic solution or wipes. Use a clean gauze pad to pat it dry.

b. Cover the wound with a sterile adhesive dressing or clean, non-stick gauze pad to protect it from dirt and bacteria.

5. Monitoring for Complications:

Seek medical advice to ensure the casualty's tetanus immunisation is up-to-date.

Keep a close eye on the wound for signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, warmth, pain, or the presence of pus. If any of these symptoms occur, or if the area becomes more painful or doesn't heal within a few days, seek medical attention.


Knowing how to properly treat a splinter is an essential skill that can prevent further complications and ensure a speedy recovery. By following the UK guidance on first aid splinter treatment outlined in this blog post, you'll be better equipped to handle these situations confidently and effectively. Remember, when in doubt or faced with a deep or stubborn splinter, always seek professional medical assistance to ensure proper care and the best outcome for your health.

Kind regards,

Slanjava Learning

-slàinte mhath-

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