How to remove imbedded cactus thorns? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have tiny cactus stickers imbedded in both thumbs and have tried minor surgery (self-induced) and tweezers, etc., to no avail. They are too tiny to be seen but are painful and driving me nuts. There used to be a salve called "icthymol" (sp?) that was very effective in drawing out splinters, etc., but have not been able to find it in a good while. Does anyone know of a source or another product that might work?

-- Pam Reif (, October 16, 2001


Stick on some duct tape and (painfully) press it down to make sure you've made the best "contact" you can.

Quickly pull of the duct tape.

Duct tape is *SUPER* sticky, as many know, and I've found this is a fail-proof way of getting slivers out of little fingers (as well as big ones!) so long as a portion of the sliver is still above skin level.

-- Tracy (, October 16, 2001.

Ive used BAGBALM or you can use vasoline,, cover the thumb,, then scrape your thumb with a knife, dont cut, Ive had it work before

-- stan (, October 16, 2001.

Sympathetic response. Don't know how to cure it, but as past president used to say.....I feel your pain.

I used to hunt deer in the hill country of Texas. You can get cactus just by breathing down there. My brother told me, it's not the big thorn that gets you, its the little one all around it! Boy was he right. Had them on the outside of both calves, everytime you rolled over in bed, you were talking to your Maker!

Good luck Rickstir

-- Rickstir (, October 16, 2001.

I've heard elmers glue will take it off if you just let it dry then peel. Good luck!

-- (, October 16, 2001.

You can get the ichthammol drawing salve at any vet's office or larger pet/horse supply stores, even some larger old fashioned pharmacies carry it. Farm supply stores also carry it in the animal ag section, and some hardware stores too.

I would try the Elmer's glue solution too, it sounds like it would work!

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, October 16, 2001.

Meijers also carries drawing salve. It is in the first aid aisle. It is simply called Drawing Salve. Good luck. Kim :-D

-- Kim in Indiana (, October 16, 2001.

I carry long nose pliers and hemostats in my saddle bags. The pliers take care of the large guys, the hemostats take care of the fuzz. They grab much better than tweezers.

-- ~Rogo (, October 16, 2001.

My brother and I used to grow prickly pear cacti for fun, were always getting those little clusters of fine spines stuck in our fingers. We dripped melted candle wax on it right away (being VERY careful not to get burned) and let it harden, then peel it off. Was effective for removing the spines. There's a product called "newskin", a liquid that you can use instead of bandages, it sets to a rubbery coating, that works as well. If the ends of the spines have slipped under the skin, you're going to have to pick and pry and use fine tweezers to get them out--been there, done that, and you have my sympathy!


-- Chelsea (, October 16, 2001.

The hair removing/pulling wax stripts will get some out.

-- Thumper (, October 16, 2001.

You can locate tiny splinters by licking them, your tounge is more sensitive than your fingers.

-- mitch hearn (, October 16, 2001.

I had a small spot on my leg once. After about two years it started changing shape and the color was getting darker. Well the doc took a plug to check for skin cancer. When the lab work came back he called me into his office and said you gotta look at this. The lab sheet read not cancer, Looks like cactus barb? LOL he said he never got a lab sheet back like that before. hahaha well sure enough I had removed several cactus plants out of my yard about 2 1/2 years before and pulled a sticker out of my leg. Since it never bothered me any more I had forgotten about it. Good Luck

-- Teresa (, October 16, 2001.

My father used to use soap to "draw" out splinters. He used Fels- Naphta(sp) soap. It is found in the laundry soap area of the store. Personally, I've used Dial with good results. You take a bit of the soap and dampen it, put it on th splinter and bandage it. The soap draws the splinter out though it sometimes takes a day or two and you should change the bandage.

-- Ardie from WI (, October 17, 2001.

Thanks to everyone who responded for all the great information! Here is an update: I found Ichthammol at WalMart but had to ask the pharmacist, as it wasn't on the shelves. Cost: $1.54 for a 1 oz. tube. NEXT time I will use one of the methods suggested above BEFORE the skin grows over! In our part of Texas we have lots of thorny plants so your help is greatly appreciated.

-- Pam Reif (, October 18, 2001.

I got one of the big ones stuck in my big toe. Had to go to the emergency room(!) because I couldn't get a decent grip on it from where I could pull it out. Talk about embarassing. Sitting there with bleeding, dying people all around me, with a cactus thorn in my toe. How wussy is that! Reiminder to self: Don't weed your rock garden in sandals!

-- Soni (, October 18, 2001.

Soni, Yes, It's embarassing. My mom "backed" into our potted cactus when she was vacuuming. Had to go to the Dr to remove the prickers. That was over 30 years ago and we haven't let her forget it.

-- Charleen in WNY (, October 18, 2001.

The last time I got a palm full of fuzzy cactus thorns (fell on one of those silly ornamental cacti) I painted the area with rubber cement, let it harden and then peeled it off.

If the skin has grown over it then drawing salve sounds like your best bet.


-- Live Oak (, October 18, 2001.

Seems to me that you should't grab hold of them cactus to start with!

-- smartass (, October 22, 2001.

I've successfully used bubble gum to take out those really tiny thorns. Just chew the gum (must be the "sticky" kind) and when it's good and chewy, apply to afflicted area.

-- Laura in Fort Worth, Texas (, January 29, 2002.

I am actually writing because I have the same miserable problem as you Pam, and am actually sitting here at my computer with a hand full of ichthamol. I started to fall and put my hand right onto one of those fuzzy cactuses to stop my fall - really stupid, huh? Well for about 2 weeks I have been trying to get these invisible suckers out with no luck. I am going to try the suggestions here but just have an additional question - You can't really see my stickers, but there are bumps around them so I think they must be in there - any input?

Thanks a million and good luck Pam!

-- Poppiti (, January 30, 2002.

I just got a bunch of the miniscule ones stuck in both hands, fingers, and thumbs. My mom told me put Clorox on them, it will neutralize the tiny stickers. It seems to have worked fairly good, they don't hurt now.

-- John W. (, February 13, 2002.

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