How To Remove Cactus Needles Embedded In Skin Painlessly

If you are a fan of cacti and have the odd specimen, when handling them you will have to be very careful, since their thorns can cause you a lot of damage. Sometimes they even get embedded in the skin, causing pain and discomfort.

Do cactus needles dissolve in the skin? How long does it take for cactus needles to dissolve? Tiny cactus needles in the skin can be quite bothersome. So, how to remove cactus needles embedded in the skin? Very easy. Just follow the advice that I will offer you below, and you will see how you will not have to worry again — at least, not excessively — about this issue.

how to remove cactus needles embedded in skin

How to Get Cactus Needles Out of the Skin

You may be calmly extracting your cactus from the pot or watering and without realizing it, a thorn is stuck in your finger. What to do in these cases? Well, the first thing is to try to stay calm and go for some tweezers if it is long or for adhesive tape (tape) if it is small.

Once you have it, you simply have to take the cactus stuck in your skin with the tweezers and pull it out. Or wrap duct tape on your opposite hand and pass it over where it got stuck. If the thorn has been broken and/or has remained completely inside the skin, I advise taking a sterile needle or one that was previously disinfected with pharmacy alcohol and poking around a little until it is removed.

Instructions: Removing the cactus stuck in the skin

how do you get cactus needles out of your skin
“cactus” by OliBac is licensed under CC BY 2.0
  1. Examine the affected individual’s body to locate the cactus needle injury.
  2. Mark the cactus needles and their point of entry into the body.
  3. Check all clothing, shoes, and other gear worn at the time you made contact with the cactus plant. Needles can poke through socks and pants and irritate the skin without being directly attached to the skin.
  4. Pinch and pull out cactus needles with tweezers if visible to the naked eye. A magnifying glass can be helpful.
  5. Swipe the tweezers on a paper towel every time you pull out a cactus needle. The needles can become sticky and each one must be removed from the tweezers before pulling out additional needles. Do not allow the paper towel to touch any other surface. Discard the paper towel when you are done.
  6. Apply cooling facial toner such as witch hazel to soothe inflammation in the affected area.

The Glue Method

  1. Spread a thin layer of water-soluble white craft glue over the affected area. Remove glue needles of any length, as long as some needle surface is poking out of the skin. Let the glue dry well.
    Rubber cement glue, masking tape, or tape can be used in place of white craft glue.
  2. Slowly peel up one edge of the adhesive film. Lift the edge with your fingertips, then quickly rip it off your skin. This cactus needle removal process is similar to using hot wax to remove unwanted body hair.
  3. If using tape, repeat the process with new tape. Never use the same tape again because you risk reinserting the thorns into your skin.
  4. Dip a cotton ball with a cool facial toner such as witch hazel and apply it to the affected area.

The Pantyhose Method

  1. Slip a pair of thick disposable gloves on your hands.
  2. Wad up a pair of old pantyhose and brush in one direction over the affected area. With every swipe, the panty will pull needles from the skin. Multiple swipes may be necessary. You shouldn’t feel the needles stuck in the panty as long as you swipe in one direction.
  3. Brush the panty in the opposite direction. This must be repeated several times. Stick to a direction to avoid reinserting needles into your skin.
  4. Make a new plug from the pantyhose and brush the affected area in a clockwise direction. More than one swipe may be required to remove cactus needles but stick clockwise to avoid reinserting them into your skin.
  5. Cover the affected area in a counter-clockwise direction. You may need to repeat this direction to completely remove cactus needles. Continue counterclockwise until all needles are removed.
  6. Dispose of the gloves and tights in the trash.

The Wait-and-see Method: Do cactus needles dissolve in the skin?

Is the cactus needle deep in your skin and you have no way to get it out? Then chances are it’ll come out on its own after a while. If you do suffer a lot, you can use a pumice stone to polish the needles of your skin in places that are not too sensitive, such as under your foot. You do not pull the needle out of your skin, but you grind out the tips, as it were.

  1. Allow the cactus spines to remain in the affected area.
  2. Wait for the needles to fall or dissolve, which will eventually do all the cactus spines.
  3. Watch for infection or irritation during your wait. If you notice redness, apply witch hazel to cleanse and cool the affected area. If irritation persists, consult a doctor.

How to Take Cactus Needles Out of Clothes Easily

When you pass near cacti like those of the Opuntia genus, you have to know that you run a serious risk of ending up with more than one thorn or spike in your clothes. When that happens, you never have to try to remove them with your hand, since if you do, those thorns will dig into your skin.

Knowing this, what I advise you is to take a hair remover roll and put it on your clothes. These types of rolls do not cost much, and they are very useful both for what they were designed and to remove thorns from clothing.

What to Do if My Wound Gets Infected?

Sometimes if the cactus needle under the skin is stuck, clean tools haven’t been used, or the needle has been poking too hard, the wound can become infected. What happens in these cases? Well, an abscess — accumulation of pus — forms, which is quite painful.

In general, it will heal on its own after a few days, but if you notice a lot of discomfort, do not hesitate to go to the doctor, who will prescribe antibiotics.

Are Cactus Needles Poisonous?

The truth is that no. The thorns by themselves are already an excellent weapon to protect them from predatory animals, so they do not need to have poison to scare them away. But they can be irritating, so especially if you are first-time (with time you get used to it) it is very important that you wear gloves when handling your plants and that you wrap them in a newspaper if they have thorns very short or on the contrary very long.


how to remove cactus needles from fingers
“Cactus Needles” by JulienLavergneUK is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Some individuals may develop contact dermatitis to cactus needles. If you notice any stinging sensations or blistering where cactus needles have embedded, see a dermatologist for help on cactus needle removal.

Don’t forget that some spines have a hook on the tip and when you want to remove them from the skin, they get more embedded and hurt a lot.

In this case, if the problem is serious, the best solution is to go to see a doctor who knows how to remove microscopic cactus needles. Or, you can open the skin (the first layers) until you can remove the cactus spines.

That’s why you have to be very careful with some cacti — some spines have in turn micro spines in the shape of an anchor and when they get inside your skin, they are very, very painful to remove.

how to remove cactus needles embedded in skin