Of Your Finger

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Cactus plants have a deceptive appearance. Some of them look quite fuzzy and soft. Don’t let that fool you!


If by some chance you end up with a cactus thorn in your finger, it’s important to remember some key differences to splinters, although the methods outlined here will work on those too.

Cactus spines sometimes have hooks or barbs which make them really difficult to remove, even with the usual tools like a sharp sterilized sewing needle, or tweezers. If there is anything to grab onto, use the tweezers.

If the thorn is broken off, or under the skin the best way I’ve found to remove cactus thorns is to rot them out. Yes, that’s what I said, rot them out.

This involves a few steps, and a little bit of time, and letting go of the urge to ‘get that thing out, now!’

First, it’s important to follow these steps as soon as possible after getting stabbed so there’s still a hole for the thorn to come out.

If the skin has healed over, you’ll need to poke a hole in where the thorn went in, to break the skin and give it a way to get out.

Be brave, this only hurts for a second or two, and no digging needed. Use a sterilized sewing needle to make a tiny hole just above the thorn.

Put a tiny dab of Bag Balm on it, then put a plastic bandage on – this will stay on at least a couple of days.

Bag Balm was developed to help cows heal, and it works for people too. It’s a similar product to Vaseline, but it’s got other healing properties. Plus it smells nice!

No need to keep the bandage dry, let it get wet in all the usual ways, like showering and washing. Replace it if it comes off, but just leave it if it stays put. Wet will just increase the chances of the cactus thorn rotting.

If it hasn’t come out on its own within a few days, you may need to get a professional to look at it.

Glochids are the tiniest little spines imaginable, and even lightly brushing a hand over the plant can cause you a lot of discomfort.

To remove these, use duct tape. Roll up a length around your hand and dab the sticky side onto the area where the glochids are. The glue will stick to them, pulling them out.

In future, try to use implements to reach down among the thorns to weed, and wear gloves.


Wrap a cactus plant in newspaper when repotting it to prevent thorns from sticking you.

Still want more things to try, when you get stuck with a cactus thorn? See the video below;