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What's the Best Way to Remove Cactus Spines?

(Hint: Using tape is a bad idea.)

Seriously, Science?
By Seriously Science
Aug 12, 2013 5:00 PMMay 9, 2020 10:02 PM
Cactus - Flickr
(Credit: epSos.de/Flickr)


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If any of you have ever sat on a cactus, you know that the spines are painful, and really difficult to remove from your skin. Although this paper is from the mid-eighties, the results are still remarkably useful. The researchers compare several methods for removing cactus spines and it’s a good thing, too, because several methods actually make the problem worse!

“The removal of very fine cactus spines from the skin is particularly distressing for the pediatric patient. We describe two typical patients and a study in experimental animals comparing the effectiveness of several previously described methods for removal. 

The most effective method involved using tweezers to remove clumps of spines followed by a thin layer of glue covered with gauze, which was allowed to dry and then peeled off to remove individual spines. Attempts to use adhesive tape or a thin layer of a commercial facial mask to aid in removal of the spines produced more retention and inflammation three days after removal than no treatment.”

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