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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

How to Remove Cactus Needles

Walking through desert terrain presents a particular set of challenges not found in other landscapes. Even if you're just going for a casual walk, you'll need to look out for cactus plants with needles that can attach to your clothing and pierce your skin. Cacti such as the jumping Cholla and teddy bear cactus have dozens of thin, hair-like needles that quickly adhere to anything that brushes by the plant. The more threatening prickly pear cactus has thicker, spiny needles that can cause a dermatological reaction if the injured person doesn't immediately remove the cactus needle.


Removing Gochlids (Hair-like Small Needles)

  1. Use glue. Considered the most effective way to remove cactus needles, using white school glue on your skin will help peel out the majority of glochids. Spread a layer of the white glue onto your skin over the top of the small cactus needles. Wait 5-10 minutes for the glue to dry, and then peel off the glue. The glochids should come out of the skin and stick to the glue. Repeat this process as necessary to remove all of the needles.

  2. Try using tape. Duct tape has proven successful in removing gochlids from the skin. Simply stretch a piece of duct tape over the area where the cactus needles are stuck. Press the duct tape onto the skin, and rub it onto the needles gently to make sure they are stuck. Then, grab one end of the duct tape and quickly rip it off, pulling the gochlids up with it. If necessary, repeat this with fresh pieces of tape until all of the needles are removed.[1]

  3. Use tweezers. Tweezers may be time-consuming, but they allow you to remove all of visible needle-hairs that might be stuck. Move into an area with bright light – natural light is preferable – and use a magnifying glass if necessary. Carefully pluck each of the needles from your skin near the base of the needle, where it meets your skin. Using this technique in addition to one of the aforementioned techniques may be the least annoying and most effective means.

  4. Try using pantyhose. Although it may not remove 100% of the needles, using pantyhose is a good way to quickly pull out gochlids. Grab an old pair of pantyhose (that you don’t mind throwing away afterwards), and ball them up. Rub this quickly back and forth across your skin; the cactus needles should stick to the pantyhose and be pulled out as you rub. Continue this using new sections of the hose until all of the needles have been removed.

  5. Try buffing off the needles. If you have needles on a part of your body that isn’t particularly sensitive – such as your feet – you can buff off the needles. Buffing won’t pull them out, but it will break off the tips of the needles. Use a pumice stone to rub back and forth over your skin at the location of the needles. You can rinse off your skin with water afterwards to remove any needles that might be left.[2]

Removing Spines (Large Needles)

  1. Avoid touching the spines. Even though the big cactus spines might appear easy enough to grab out with your fingers, they often contain small hair-like needles known as glochids. Touching these even very lightly will get them stuck in your skin, and they’re much more difficult to remove than spines. Leave the spine, and stick to using tools to pull it out.

  2. Use tweezers to remove the spines. Carefully pinch the base of the spine with the tweezers as close to the skin as you can get. Slowly pull out to remove the spine, pulling in the same direction as the spine.

  3. Clean the wound. Because cactus spines are rather large, they often leave small puncture wounds that may or may not bleed. Regardless of any blood present, you should clean the wound so that it does not become infected. Use witch hazel or hydrogen peroxide to clean the cut; pour some onto a cotton pad, and dab it onto the cut. Use a bandaid or gauze pad to bandage the wound, if necessary.[3]


  • Leaving any cactus needles in the skin may cause an infection.


  • Some individuals can experience a dermatitis reaction to cactus needles. If you notice any blistering or stabbing sensations where cactus needles have attached, see a dermatologist or your doctor for help.

Things You'll Need

  • Tweezers

  • Magnifying mirror

  • Paper towel

  • Cotton ball

  • Witch hazel

  • White school glue

  • Rubber gloves

  • Pantyhose

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

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from How to of the Day http://www.wikihow.com/Remove-Cactus-Needles

via Peter

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