What’s the best way to remove cactus spines? (Hint: using tape is a bad idea.)

By Seriously Science | August 12, 2013 12:00 pm

Photo: flickr/epSos .de

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!

Removal of cactus spines from the skin. A comparative evaluation of several methods.

“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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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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