You should have known better than to step outdoors barefoot, but you still did, and now you have cactus needles in your foot.
What ought you to do? Keep yourself sober and dispose of the needles before trying a shot of tequila. When you know you won’t need to travel to the doctor’s office, you can have the tequila then.
Cactus needle advice is widely available online, however most of it is pretty similar. No matter where you were pricked, the procedures are the same.
First use tweezers to get the biggest needles
Start by carefully removing any needles that aren’t totally buried using tweezers. In a single, straight motion, pull them out.
By pressing bubbles out of a screen protector, you might be able to entice buried needles to the surface by rubbing from the inner point of the needle toward the surface. If the needle was inserted directly into the skin and not along the skin, this is unlikely to work. A specialist might be required for that.
Next take care of the tiny needles
Look after the glochids. Even though they are tougher to notice, these tiny, hair-like needles are nevertheless detectable.
You don’t want the needles to get into your hand while wearing gloves.
Rub the skin with a pair of wadded-up nylon pantyhose. That ought to get rid of most of the glochids.
Try using glue
Spread adhesive where you believe there are still needles or glochids—some people advise rubber cement, others Elmer’s glue or something comparable. Allow the adhesive to cure before covering with gauze.
Pull the gauze and glue off with caution. With the glue, the needles and glochids ought to fall off. It is not advised to use adhesive tape.
Once the needles have been removed, clean the area, apply an antibiotic cream, and cover the wound with a bandage that you should keep dry and clean.
Try taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen, two over-the-counter analgesics, if you’re in pain.
What is the duration of cactus stings?
Both Trager and Banimahd agree that the best tool for removing long spines and glochids is a pair of tweezers. Trager employs pliers or a hemostat clamp when deeper long spines require a tighter hold. In any case, he advised acting swiftly. “It’s actually preferable to simply yank them out in one motion.
Lighting and adhesives are the best solutions for the glochids that resemble hair. Trager like to use backlighting from the sun since glochids are challenging to see. Smartphone lights and flashlights both function.
Cover the puncture site with something sticky to make sure any glochids on the surface have been eliminated. Adhesives can tear off the skin and get rid of any glochids that are still there. Trager has used duct tape, while Banimahd employs gauze and skin-safe glue in the emergency room. Hair removal wax or rubber cement both function similarly.
Avoid using your teeth at all costs, as one of Trager’s friends did “According to Trager, he once took them out with his teeth and unintentionally breathed in a glochid. “The throat didn’t feel great after that.
If you can’t get everything out, don’t freak out. Trager has experienced the breaking off of spines that were too difficult or deep to remove “The time it takes to leave in that situation ranges from a week to two or three at most, according to him.
Why are cactus needles so painful?
Cactus spines are modified leaves that resemble needles. Cactus may lose less water in hot and arid environments because of its needle-like adaptability. Additionally, they give out some shade and are a fantastic deterrent to animals that might try to eat them.
Some cactus feature camouflage-producing spines, which further helps to defend them from predators who could try to consume them. Less light reaches the stem of the plant because the cactus spines reflect light (reducing water loss).
What types of cactus spines are there?
Various cactus plants may have one of a few different types of cactus spines. Some spine types could be more difficult to remove and hurt more when pricked. Types of cactus spines include:
- tiny, hair-like spines (such as in genus of Cephalocereus)
- Stiffened spines (such as in Mammillaria gracilis)
- rounded spines (such as in Sclerocactus papyracanthus)
- Glochids (such as in Opuntia rufida)
- bent spines (most cacti)
One of the types of cactus spines that causes the most pain is the glochid. This is due to the glochids’ brittleness and easy skin-breaking. This makes removing them from the skin extremely difficult.
This also applies to cholla or barbed spines. They are extremely painful and easily penetrate skin and soft tissues. These cacti belong to the Opuntioideae subfamily, which also includes Chollas and Cylindropuntia.
Because they adhere to flesh, clothing, and fur with ease, cholla cacti are sometimes known as jumping chollas. They must be carefully removed from the skin since if done by hand, they would cling to the fingers.
Cactus Spines Overview
The Southwest features a cactus with those thorny spines that carry a sharp punch, which is your enemy when hiking there.
I adore cacti and am frequently spotted on the trail taking pictures of them, especially young barrel cacti.
However, despite how “cute and “beautiful they are, a slip or a brush against one can result in some discomfort. Or the severe discomfort a woman had in Sedona after falling into a large area of cacti that lodged their “needles all over her body Four of us were using tweezers to assist her in getting rid of them.
The two different kinds of “thorns” or “needles” on cacti are called glochids and spines.
The enormous spines are “cactus needles that can be easily seen with the naked eye from a distance of a few feet.
This is the “Good ones are the ones that are the simplest to get rid of. In some cases, you can remove the spines by yourself rather than using your cactus first aid kit.
If you decide to remove a spine by hand, proceed with extreme caution to avoid pushing it in or breaking the spine, both of which will make the process more difficult.
Glochids are the needles that resemble hair and that you can see when you are close to a cactus. Because they are so small, they may be difficult to see, and they may enter in groups, these are the ones that can be the most difficult to remove “Normally, needles include a barb, which makes it challenging to remove them.
DO NOT attempt to manually remove glochids! Tweezers or a combination of tweezers and a pair of tweezers should be used to remove this “putty patch
A microscopic focal stack of 21 images of a cholla cactus spine reveals the barbs that make removal agonizingly painful.
How Do You Treat Cactus Wounds
Once all of the spines or glochids have been taken out, clean the wound well and apply an antibiotic ointment. Try to wrap the places with a bandage, gauze, and tape if you have them, especially if you’re in a “dirty location.”
If your wound(s) are itching or in discomfort, use your best judgment when choosing a medication and think about utilizing a topical solution and/or an over-the-counter choice like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
What Happens if You Leave a Cactus Needle In
What goes in must eventually come out. If that tiny pimple appears at the site of the cut, it might unfortunately be a painful process. Typically, that indicates that it has reached the surface of the skin, and you should be able to get rid of it by carefully pressing the pimple out with your fingers after emptying it.
Are Cactus Needles Dangerous
Although cactus spines are not toxic to people or animals, if they are left in or are not properly cared for, there is a potential that the wound area will become infected.
There is a possibility that something on the spine, such germs, might possibly result in an infection.
How to Remove Cactus Spines
Use a pair of needle-nose tweezers to remove as many spines and glochids as you can if you are unable to remove them by hand. If there is any Elmer’s Glue remaining, spread it over the affected area and cover it with gauze while it dries, which takes around 30 minutes.
Because it can be used for so many different things, like fixing malfunctioning equipment temporarily and mending torn clothes, duct tape is a particularly useful tool to bring in your backpack. I keep a little roll in my rucksack and a small quantity attached to my hiking poles.
Forcep Tweezer With Pointed Tips
When you need to remove spines and glochids precisely, tweezers with pointy tips are more useful than those with slant tips.
You can purchase them online or in the beauty section of your preferred retail establishment.
Finding a “combo kit with sharp tip tweezers and a magnification is something I advise.
Tweezer With Magnifier from Amazon, REI, and Walmart can be seen in the combo set from these online merchants.
Lighter or Matches to “Disinfect the Items
It’s advised to keep a tiny lighter on hand at all times in case you need to start a fire or clean the tools you’ll be using to remove the spines in an emergency.
Learn more about the 10 Essentials for the Southwest Hiker to bring in case of emergencies.
This is one of the most frequently advised methods for removing cactus spines and glochids when used in conjunction with gauze.
Because it’s so difficult to locate little bottles, I always take a 4-ounce bottle about with me, even though it’s bigger than I need. Amazon is the only place I could discover to buy them. View the Elmer’s Glue-All 1.25 ounce container.
I’ve only used Elmer’s Glue-All, the “all-purpose kind,” not the kid-friendly washable variety.
Since we typically don’t bring soap and water to keep our hands clean, this is a challenging one to undertake while hiking.
We will rinse the area with water from our hydration bladders to get rid of any debris.
Disinfecting Items With Fire
Heat your instruments with a lighter until the metal becomes red for the quickest and most effective way to “disinfect” them. Once it gets red, let it cool and then begin the removal process of the intrusive object (s).
If you don’t have a lighter, see if you have alcohol wipes in your first aid box.
Antibiotics and Antihistamines
Most people advise keeping antibiotics in your cactus first aid kit, but we go a step further and recommend including an over-the-counter antihistamine to help with any reactions you might have to the unpleasant skin invader.
How is a cactus puncture treated?
Before bandaging the wound, apply an antibiotic or antibacterial gel to the puncture areas. Swelling is decreased by applying ice or a cold pack to the area. Cellulitis, inflammation, infection, and retained cactus spine are among the long-term issues connected to cactus puncture wounds.
Are cactus needles skin-soluble?
Maybe you’re hiking through a small desert canyon twenty miles off the beaten path. Or perhaps you take a wrong turn through your aunt’s succulent garden after two martinis at her cocktail party. Cactus spines can hurt, whether you encounter them in the wild or in a botanical garden, and if you’re not careful, the tiny, hairy ones known as glochids may even endanger your health. The best course of action is to avoid getting into contact with cactus spines, but if that is not possible, here is how to fix the problem.
Cactus spines can be divided into two categories. The majority of cacti have the thick kind, which is easiest treated like a splinter, and the glochids mentioned before, which need to be extracted using a whole other technique.
First, let’s talk about the common spines. Unless you really wail on the plant, as I did here with my bare foot, most cacti’s spines won’t come away from the plant when you brush up against them. The best approach to treat a cactus spine puncture wound that then has the decency to remain attached to its parent plant is to treat it just like you would any other scratch or puncture wound, despite how terrible it is. Ensure the cleanliness of your new piercing. In the wilderness, this might call for moist towels and a product resembling hand sanitizer. If you’re close to a plumbing system, soap and water will do the trick. After that, simply monitor the wound as it recovers to prevent infection.
It’s considerably more likely for thin-spined cacti to break off and stab your skin. Most of the time, you ought to be able to remove these by treating them like a small splinter. If you don’t have tweezers, you should use the blade of a pocketknife to scrape the spines loose. It should go without saying that you should use extreme caution when doing this.
It will be much harder to remove the spines if none of them stick out above the skin. You might be able to locate the spine with a sterile needle if it is close to the surface of a rough patch of skin, on a heel, a kneecap, or another location comparable.
You may rationally opt to leave the spine in place to dissolve gradually over a few weeks if doing so would be too similar to surgery and it isn’t causing you too much discomfort. Many individuals who frequently come into contact with cacti do precisely that. However, putting any foreign body in your skin does dramatically raise your risk of contracting an infection. Additionally, you have no idea what type of terrible stuff may have covered the spine before it became your new home, from bird feces to a decaying carcass.
The best course of action for badly lodged spines that you can’t remove on your own is to have them removed for you by a doctor, skilled First Aid professional, or other knowledgeable individual. The advantage of this is that you can ask them to check the wound for infections and assist you in keeping it clean while you recover.
There can never be just one glochid wound. A glochid that penetrates your skin most likely brought several hundred of its companions with it. Glochids make their way into your flesh to the point where their hilt would be if they had hilts, and because their shafts are barbed, it is more difficult than it should be to remove them. Glochids detach with the slightest wind.
The good news is that only a small number of cacti, including cholla and prickly pears, have glochids. There are a lot of cholla and prickly pears out there, which is bad news. The bad news is that even the best methods for getting rid of glochids on your skin only work approximately 95% of the time, leaving 5% of them behind. And when you rub that patch of skin in the wrong manner, the stupid things hurt a lot more than their size would suggest, creating pains that range from bothersome to terrible.
If you get punctured by several glochids, there is one thing you must do immediately: keep the affected area of your body away from your mouth. Unbelievably often, when someone has a patch of glochids trapped in their hand, they go for their lips and almost instinctively try to suck the irritating spines out of their skin. The risk with this is that it occasionally succeeds in sucking the glochids out of your skin and into your mouth. There, they can become lodged in your tongue, gums, or even your windpipe, where the consequences can be lethal or extremely uncomfortable.
Similarly, you should never touch your face, especially the area around your eyes.
Tweezers are your first line of defense when dealing with glochids, just as you would be with their larger, less irritable relatives. When using tweezers carefully, in bright light, with patience, and good vision, you can remove somewhat more than half of the glochids that are typically transferred during accidents. The fact that the organisms frequently fall off the plant in groups is advantageous; you may be able to remove a few dozen glochids with a single tug.
Adhesives can also be used to mass remove glochids. I’ve successfully covered the troublesome region with duct tape, ripped it off, and used it again. This effectively destroys between a third and a half of the glochids, any local hair, and sporadically the top millimeter of skin.
The best way to remove glochids appears to be a two-step procedure. With tweezers, first get rid of as many as you can. After that, wrap the damaged region in gauze and thoroughly cover it with white glue. Peel off the gauze when the glue has had time to cure. You can remove all but 5% of the glochids using a combination of the two techniques.
Unfortunately, even the most successful removal techniques frequently leave the glochids’ barbed points buried in skin. This doesn’t bother many people or simply makes them slightly uncomfortable. However, these lingering barbules can lead to extremely bothersome dermatitis, which is best treated by scraping the sores open and removing the barbules using dissecting equipment and a microscope.
It goes without saying that admiring glochids from a distance is the best course of action.
The image up top suggests one more cactus spine removal scenario: frequently enough, an entire portion of cholla will lodge in your skin and refuse to come off. It’s best to avoid the urge to use your free hand to try to pull the part away because you’ll almost surely wind up impaling it. More essential, avoid vigorously shaking the limb the cholla stem is clinging to in an attempt to remove it. The cholla has been known to come off at a high rate of speed and strike more than one person in the face.
Instead, pry the part away from you using a foreign item. A huge comb is a common item carried by desert rats who are used to live in cholla country since it is an effective tool for removing the stems of chollas by hand. If you don’t have a comb, get a clean stick—not a cactus skeleton, since those frequently still have spines attached—and use it to carefully peel the stem off by yourself with the least amount of throwing. Then look for glochid areas on your skin and prepare the tweezers and white glue.