How to Remove Cactus Barbs

How to Remove Cactus Barbs
A cactus conjures images of exotic gardens, the desert and a vacation out west. But their sharp barbs can be a nuisance and remain buried under the skin for months. Symptoms might include itching, swelling and cactus dermatitis with painful red papules. Even if the barbs are not causing immediate discomfort, you need to remove them quickly to avoid potential infection.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Instructions

Things You’ll Need:
  • Soap Tweezers Rubbing alcohol Gauze Elmer's glue Hot wax Clean cloth Antibacterial ointment
  • Soap
  • Tweezers
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Gauze
  • Elmer's glue
  • Hot wax
  • Clean cloth
  • Antibacterial ointment
Step 1
Run your finger over the affected area to see if you can feel the barb. Some cactus barbs are small and break apart easily. You should see them poking up under the skin. Do not press too hard or try to suck out the barb. You may get it stuck in your tongue or other fingers instead. Yanking out the barb may leave behind tiny shards under the skin and lead to infection.
Step 2
Soak the affected area in warm, soapy water for about 10 minutes and then dry it with a clean towel. This will help the skin soften and release the cactus barbs more easily.
Step 3
Use tweezers to pull out large or visible barbs that are poking through the skin's surface. Sterilize the tweezers first by rubbing them clean with rubbing alcohol.
Step 4
Spread a thin layer of Elmer's glue over the area and cover it with gauze or a clean cloth for about 45 minutes. Peel it off quickly and check to see if it grabbed the cactus barbs. This is particularly effective for digging out small shards after removing larger barbs with tweezers.
Step 5
Spread hot hair-removal wax over the affected area, cover it with a clean cloth and let it cool according to the wax instructions. Rip it off quickly and look for barbs.
Step 6
Apply an antibacterial ointment, such as Neosporin, after removing or attempting to remove any cactus barbs. Keep your hands clean and allow your skin to rest between treatments or when irritation occurs. You may have to try various treatments for several days to draw out the barbs.

Tips & Warnings

 
Seeking proper medical attention is the safest way to deal with cactus barbs. Check your clothes and gloves after handling a cactus for stray barbs.
 
Seeking proper medical attention is the safest way to deal with cactus barbs.
 
Check your clothes and gloves after handling a cactus for stray barbs.

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