Removing a splinter stuck in the skin is necessary as soon as the accident occurs, because if it is left it can be infected. With the urgent need to stop feeling that painful sensation and avoid an infection, you have probably ever pricked the affected area with any sharp object, such as a needle or pin. This action is also carried out for other purposes, such as checking and removing the milliums or small balls of fat that appear on the face.
Whatever the objective, if you plan to prick a specific part of the skin with sharp objects, such as a needle, you need to sterilize them. It is important to eliminate all the contaminating bacteria it contains so as not to cause an infection. So, if you want to know how to disinfect a needle, we recommend that you continue reading this article from.
How to disinfect a needle – preparation for sterilization
Before sterilizing a syringe or needle, or any other type of sharp object, you should follow a few steps to prepare yourself and not endanger health.
- Wear gloves: The goal is to remove all contaminating components from the tool. Therefore, put on gloves before handling it. If you don't have it, wash your hands thoroughly.
- Gather all the material you need: to pick up the needle use a well-cleaned clamp and avoid contact with hands and gloves before washing it, otherwise you can contaminate it.
- Wash the needle or sharp object: Clean the needle or pin with water and disinfectant or soap to ensure it's not stained by any previous use.
- Rinse the needle with sterile water: Avoid unsterilized distilled water, as it may contain bacteria. This step and the previous one serve to remove the largest dirt before sterilizing well.
The methods that we will explain below are not for a total disinfection, since the needle or pin could be contaminated later when it comes into contact with possible contaminants that are present in the air or in the water used for cleaning. Therefore, as they are methods that do offer a deep cleaning of the needle and is enough for some uses, really, they are only interesting to use the needle superficially on the skin, that is, to lift it a little. Anyway, it is useful to remove a splinter stuck in the skin, but do not put your health at risk with these procedures if what you want is to make a perforation beyond the outer layer of the skin (as in the case of piercings, tattoos …).
The only way you will ensure complete sterilization of the needle is by autoclave. It is a machine with which you can work at high pressures and steam and, thanks to this, achieves the total sterilization of any object and, in addition, it can be vacuum packed in an envelope. In fact, this is how the surgical material is sterilized.
How to use steam to sterilize a needle
It is one of the most effective methods to sterilize needles or pins. Follow these instructions to disinfect needles with steam.
- Pour water into a pot and wait for it to start boiling.
- Place a rack on top of the pot, or use a special pot for steaming (like the one pictured below), and put the needle on top of it.
- Place the lid of the pot so that the steam concentrates and acts well.
- Let 20 minutes pass, since you start to see enough steam, at least. The longer you leave it, the cleaner it will be, but be careful not to let all the water evaporate.
- Remember to wear freshly opened latex gloves when picking it up to avoid getting it dirty.
How to burn a needle to disinfect it
Another option you can consider if you're looking for how to sterilize a needle is to directly use fire. To disinfect a needle with fire, follow these steps:
- Light a stove or use a lighter.
- We recommend using tweezers to take the needle and bring it closer to the fire and keep it without burning.
- Place the tip of the needle in the flame, if possible, in the center of it because there is more temperature.
- You will see that it darkens, but wait for the tip to acquire a somewhat reddish color.
- See if there is any remaining charcoal or burnt and black residue on the surface of the needle.
- Take a sterile gauze and wash the utensil to remove possible dirt resulting from the process.
Another faster option that will not leave residues because you do not have to wait for the needle to be incandescent is the following:
- With tweezers take the needle and wet it whole in pharmacy alcohol.
- Turn on the lighter or stove.
- Put the needle on the fire and you will see how to turn on all the alcohol, thoroughly cleaning the entire surface of the needle.
How to disinfect a needle with alcohol
Another way to sterilize a needle is by using chemicals, such as alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or bleach. Depending on the one you choose, the times and the steps to follow vary.
- You can use bleach or other chemicals (ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide). We recommend pharmacy alcohol. Start by putting enough in a tray to cover the entire needle.
- Insert the needle for a minimum of 20 minutes to eliminate all bacteria and other pathogens.
- Remove the needle with clean tweezers. To ensure the success of the disinfection, at this point you can use a small lighter flame, holding the needle with tweezers, to remove the alcohol and burn the possible remains of pathogens.
How to boil a needle to disinfect it
Among the methods you should know to know how to disinfect a needle is also boiling it in water. following these steps:
- After washing and the subsequent rinsing of the needle to remove the largest dirt, put water in a pot, with a third of its capacity will suffice.
- Place the needle inside and boil the water for about 20 minutes or half an hour.
- Count the minutes from the moment the water starts to boil for sterilization to be effective, not before.
- When finished, grab the needle with a clean clamp or wearing gloves.
How to disinfect a needle in the oven
Heating the oven to disinfect a needle is another action that you must contemplate and that we explain here:
- Put a little water on the oven tray, it will be enough with an amount in the center and that can cover the needle.
- Place the sharp metal needle or utensil on the oven tray at a temperature of 170 oC.
- Wait about an hour for it to disinfect completely and leave the oven door open to wait for the temperature to drop, without removing the needle.
- When removing it, take it with clean tweezers and release it on an already sterile surface or in a tray with pharmacy alcohol before taking it with gloves to use it.
Now that you know how to disinfect a needle in various ways in case of emergency, keep in mind that as soon as you finish you will have to disinfect the wound, even if it seems small. Here we explain how to disinfect a wound.
In addition, as we have indicated at the beginning, this type of needle disinfection should only be used for cases in which only the outermost layers of the skin are touched with it, as in the case of lifting the skin a little more to be able to remove a wood chip or other material or a millium or ball of fat. If you are in one of these situations, we recommend these other posts of How to remove a splinter without pain and how to remove the fat balls in the eyes.