First aid treatment for splinters

Essential first aid: How to safely treat and manage splinters

Dealing with splinters is a common occurrence both at home and in the workplace. While they may seem minor, improper treatment can lead to serious infections. This blog outlines the safe and effective methods for treating splinters, backed by the best practices in first aid training, which are crucial for personal and workplace safety.

The importance of proper splinter removal

Splinters—fragments of wood, metal, glass, or plastic that penetrate the skin—can cause discomfort and, if left untreated, infections. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does not provide specific guidance on splinters but underscores the importance of general wound care and first aid in the workplace. Quick and appropriate action is necessary to prevent complications, aligning with broader health and safety protocols.

Key definitions

  • Splinter - A foreign body that penetrates the skin, potentially causing injury or infection.
  • Infection - The invasion and multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are not normally present within the body.

Relevant legislation and regulations

In the UK, the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities, and personnel to ensure employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. This includes managing minor injuries such as splinters.

Best practices for splinter removal

According to NHS guidelines and the British Red Cross, the recommended steps for removing a splinter are:

  • Clean the area - Before attempting to remove the splinter, clean the skin with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Use tweezers - Sterilise tweezers with rubbing alcohol. Gently pull the splinter out in the same direction it entered.
  • Clean and protect - After removal, clean the wound again and apply a plaster or bandage to keep it clean.
  • Elevate the affected area - This can help reduce swelling and discomfort.

Employers should ensure that all first aid kits are equipped with sterilised tweezers and antiseptic wipes or solutions, as part of compliance with workplace health and safety standards.

Handling complications

If a splinter is deeply embedded, or if removal attempts fail, it is important to seek medical attention. Signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus, also necessitate professional care.

Recommendations for training and preparedness

Businesses must recognise the importance of first aid training. Ensuring that employees are trained in basic first aid techniques, including splinter removal, supports compliance with HSE regulations and can prevent minor injuries from becoming major issues. First aid training courses, such as those provided by The Mandatory Training Group, cover a wide range of emergencies, equipping staff with the knowledge to act confidently and competently.


Although typically minor, splinters can pose significant health risks if not treated properly. Adhering to the guidelines outlined in this article will help minimise these risks. Regular first aid training and properly stocked first aid kits are essential in any environment, ensuring that both minor incidents and more severe emergencies can be handled effectively.

Enrol in our first aid training courses today to ensure your workplace is compliant and your staff is prepared. Click here to explore our comprehensive first aid training programmes, which can help you meet your health and safety obligations. Equip your team with the knowledge to handle everyday injuries like splinters and more.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always seek professional medical assistance in emergency situations.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

Essential first aid: How to safely treat and manage splinters - ComplyPlus LMS™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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