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Good Techniques to Use When Removing Slivers

Good Techniques to Use When Removing Slivers

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When I was a child, I was more scared of the process of removing slivers than I was of their presence underneath my skin.  Let’s just say that my parent’s were not well-versed in sliver removal techniques, and getting rid of the objects often turned out to be more painful than the wound itself.  Consequently, I paid special attention to good sliver-removal options over the years in order to find the ones that were the most-effective while causing the least amount of pain.  Let’s take a look at a few techniques that can make removing slivers a breeze.

Tweezers

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Tweezers work wonders when you’re trying to remove a thicker, stronger foreign object that is protruding well above the skin.  As long as there’s enough room for you to grab on to the end without accidentally pulling the surrounding skin or pinching the wound, chances are that you can pull it out in one swift motion.  However, if the splinter is prone to breaking, then you may only end up removing the protruding part while the other end remains embedded in the skin.

Flat nosed tweezers are more stable and allow for some margin of error as you try to grasp the sliver.  However, pointed ones may be better when trying to get at a small protrusion or one that needs to be gripped in a pin-point location.  Consider having both on hand so you can choose the best option when the situation arises.

Needles

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Needles may be needed in order to lance the skin or widen the hole around the foreign object.  Needles also help to lift the layer of skin just above the object in order to create a bigger space and make it easier to remove.  However, this requires a little bit of delicate handling in order to avoid causing further damage to the wound site and causing the patient additional pain.  Needles should also be sterilized whenever possible to minimize the chances of the site getting infected.  You don’t want to use needles to scrape away at the skin as this will cause it to tear while making an already sensitive area even more painful.

Solvents

If you’re having trouble getting a stubborn sliver out, or it is completely embedded under the skin, there are a number of solvents that you can use that will soften the skin and draw the object out.  One of the most popular over-the-counter medicines is often called icthammmol ointment.  These products contain ammonium bituminosulfonate, which softens the skin, expands the area surrounding the foreign object and helps the body to push it out. 

Many people associate this medicine with tar due to it’s thick, sticky, black consistency and pungent odor.  However, despite it’s unpleasant characteristics, this medicine is one of the best remedies around.  All you need to do is apply it to the affected area, cover with a bandage and check once or twice a day to see whether the splinter is ready to be removed or has fallen out on its own accord.

Another popular home-remedy is to make a poultice out of Epsom salts.  Simply sprinkle a few grains on the affected area and cover with a bandage.  The moisture from the skin and wound site will interact with the minerals in the salts that can cause the skin to soften while extracting the foreign object.  Another option is to soak the affected area in a bowl of concentrated Epsom salts and water for a few minutes every few hours.  Cover with a bandage between treatments.  In both cases, this method can help to draw out the sliver in less than a day in some cases.

Finally, you can also use some tape if the sliver is protruding from the skin.  Duct tape works particularly well, but any good adhesive can work.  You can also use adhesive bandages, and liquid bandages are a very effective option as well.  The important thing to remember is that you want to pull back on the sliver so that it is pulled out in the opposite direction from how it entered the skin.  This is a good option to consider when there is not enough of a protrusion to remove the sliver with tweezers or a needle.

These are just a few examples of many options that you can use to remove slivers, but remember that the best solution will depend on the nature of the injury and how well you can apply these or other techniques.  However, having a few different options at your disposal will go a long way toward helping you to get the sliver out as quickly and painlessly as possible. 

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Basic Information About Dressings and Bandages

Basic Information About Dressings and Bandages

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Bandages and dressings are part and parcel of every first aid kit.  They come in various shapes and sizes, and they can used for anything from covering wounds to controlling bleeding or as an improvised sling.  Let’s take a look at some general guidelines that can help you to choose the right ones to include in your survival first aid kit.

Dressings

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Dressings are most-often used for covering wounds and protecting the site from contamination or further injury.  Some some with adhesive strips whereas others are pieces of padding.  As a general rule of thumb, dressings should be about 1 inch bigger than the wound on all sides.  This will help to protect the wound while providing room to anchor it in place atop healthier tissue surrounding the wound.  It’s important that your first aid kit contains an assortment of dressings that are different sizes in order to protect against injuries that you may sustain in the field. 

Dressings can also be used in layers to help to put pressure on a bleeding wound that is difficult to control.  The thicker the padding, the more pressure can be applied to the affected area.  While you can always add padding by using clean fabric from a shirt or hoodies, it’s important that the material doesn’t come into direct contact with the wound.  Dressings are sterile, which is why they are packaged individually, and this is to keep wounds as germ-free as possible.  Dressings usually don’t have adhesive on them.  Instead, they are secured with tape or gauze in most cases.

Bandages

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Bandages are often confused with dressings, but it’s the bandage that holds the dressing in place, not the other way around.  Bandages are usually rolled-up strips of differing material such as gauze or cloth.  Bandages can also be made from elastic material, such as what you find in something like an Ace bandage, and this is used to help compress a wound.   

When working with bandages, experts suggest using rolls or strips that vary in width as well as length.  For elbow and lower arm injuries, look for 3 inch wide bandages.  Upper arm, leg and thigh injuries should have 4 inch bandages applied to them, and injuries of the torso or large thigh should have 6 inch bandages under ideal conditions.  The reason bandages are so wide is that they cover a larger surface area which reduces the need to wrap strips in layers around a wound.  They provide a more-secure wrap, and are less-likely to come loose or form gaps between layers once they are applied to a wound.

Applying Bandages

It’s important to have a sense of how snug a bandage should be around a particular wound.  If the bandage is too tight, it can impede circulation or cause discomfort for the patient.  If it is too loose, they can cause the dressing to slip off and expose the wound.  You can also end up using too much or not enough material to cover the wound or injury in question as well.  It’s important to find that “happy middle” when applying a bandage to prevent waste or the unnecessary depletion of your supplies.  However, you don’t want to use too little either.   

The amount of pressure that you will use with a bandage will depend on if a wound produces bleeding that is difficult to control or if an injury needs to be compressed in order to help immobilize the area.  Again, comfort and circulation are two things to be on the lookout for.  For joint injuries, a good amount of pressure will help to limit movement, provide support for the patient and minimize the risk of further damage to the affected area.  For wound injuries, bandages can help to control bleeding in addition to protecting the area from contamination.

As a general rule of thumb, you never want to apply so much pressure that the area below the injury starts to turn purple or blue.  This is an indication that blood is being trapped below the wound site, and this can lead to a host of severe complications, some life-threatening, that are avoidable.  You also want to check that the patient is not experiencing tingling or numbness in areas below the wound site as well.  These are all indicators that the bandage is too tight.

It’s also important to have a combination of compression as well as gauze bandages in your first aid kit.  You generally don’t want to apply compression bandages to wounds where bleeding is under control, and you don’t want to use gauze to compress injuries to joints as they are not as effective with keeping them immobilized.

Final Thoughts

You should never re-use dressings as doing so can lead to severe infections.  However, you can reuse bandages as long as they don’t come into direct contact with an open wound.  This is why it’s important to have more dressings on hand than bandages. 

It’s also important to adapt your first aid kit to the conditions that you expect to face.  While you can keep a large all-purpose kit in your home or vehicle, it is not practical to bring that much stuff with you on a hike.  There are lot of different opinions out there in terms of creating the perfect first aid kit, and you can easily come up with a combination of items that will most-likely be needed based on the situation at hand.

Finally, try to avoid using adhesive bandages on large wounds unless they are big enough to extend to around 1 inch on either side.  Adhesive bandages do not have the same strength as their padded counterparts, and peeling them off, particularly ones that are too small, can cause further damage to the wound or unnecessary pain around sensitive areas.  Instead, consider using cloth-based surgical tape.  It will usually provide enough adhesion to hold the dressing in place until you can wrap a bandage around the wound. 

Learn more about different first aid techniques associated with efficiently-dressing bandages and wounds.  The process is not that complicated, but it’s important to get a feel for what will need to be done so you can focus on treating a victim in the field instead of practicing. 

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