Arizona Desert-How to Remove the Spines of Desert Cacti
Living in the low-lying Arizona deserts, there is one experience you are sure to have at some point: Being pricked or stuck by some species of desert cacti. Cacti are abundant in Arizona’s deserts and many species leave stems on or grow on the ground. When you get one or a cluster stuck in your skin, the reversed barbs on the end expand, making them difficult to pull out. What can you do if a cluster of thorns finds it way under your skin? Here are some victim-tested suggestions:
-Use a pair of tweezers to work the thorn out. Don’t try to yank it straight out, use a slow, angled, or side-to-side motion as you pull. Pulling too hard may break the thorn and leave barbs under the skin.
-Use glue. Spread white paste glue over the area for smaller thorns, especially the fine spines from ‘Angel Wings’ or “Cinnamon Cacti.” Let the glue dry and then pull it off. For stronger thorns, consider super glue, but read the dangers of this first.
-A safer, and perhaps more effective option is to use tape. Scotch tape will work well for clusters of fine spines, but for larger, or more deeply embedded thorns, try packing or duct tape. Put the tape on against the direction the spines went in and pull the tape away with the grain of the skin, if possible.
-Use a waxing kit. A home hair-waxing kit is sworn to by many cactus thorn victims. As with the glue, follow directions to let the wax set before pulling it off. If possible, put wax on against the direction the barbs went in.
Cactus spines left in the skin may work themselves in deeper and cause infection. Once the visible spines are removed, use a magnifying glass to hunt for any remnants. Clean the area well with soap and water, and then use Neosporin or another triple antibiotic on the area to prevent infection.
When pain or itching persists, it is time to see the doctor, who can numb the area and pull or cut out any remaining barbs. Other dangerous signs of infection include swelling, fever, and red streaks away from the wound.
People and animals should avoid brushing up against cactus to prevent getting poked. This is often easier said than done, especially when you are out walking the dog/s or hiking and there are teddy bear cholla stems all over the ground. Still, use caution and don’t let dogs off the leash if you want to avoid an ugly incident. It is not uncommon to see dog owners trying to remove tennis ball-sized cholla stems, or several, from a dog’s snout.
Never touch a cactus paddle with an unprotected hand even if it looks smooth. Some varieties of cactus, such as Indian Fig, look as smooth as rubber. However, even though they are largely spineless, some spines can grow, and you won’t see them until you feel them.
If you have to hike on a wild or poorly maintained trail in the desert, be sure to wear tough, long pants and long-sleeved shirt. Consider carrying gloves and always wear tough-soled shoes. Many cactus thorns are capable of going straight through a rubber sole, and mesquite tree thorns from dead or fallen branches are like sharp nails.
Bring a small first aid kit with tweezers or needle nose pliers, and pack a magnifying glass or strong magnifier glasses. Be sure to have a small bottle of glue or some wax strips, as well. They could save the day if you get stuck by a cactus and do not take up much space. Have alcohol wipes and triple antibiotic in the kit for immediate wound treatment that discourages infection.
Cactus are a beautiful if sometimes irritating fact of desert life. We love their vibrant and powerful flowers, the sometimes alien shapes of their sculptural beauty. It is no fun getting stuck by one, though, so be prepared and use the tips above if you find yourself in the desert with cactus spines in your skin.
Read more hubs about Arizona and Hawaii below >>>
- Arizona's Grand Canyon-The Bright Angel Trail with Kids
Hiking the Grand Canyon with kids. Absolutely! Follow our adventure on The Bright Angel Trail, a great place for first time canyon hikers.
- Hawaii Kayaking- Kailua Bay offers a Travel Adventure for All Ages
A trip to Kailua Hawaii on the Windward side. This may be one of the best destinations in the world for all ages.
- Oahu Hawaii - A Perfect Day on the Windward Side
If you've been to O'ahu, Hawaii but missed out on the Windward side, you are missing out on a paradise of ancient proportions. Catch a slice of the beauty in this journey back.
- Hawaiian Islands-Rediscovering Life on Oahu
Hawaii is an unusual and beautiful place. Rife with raw beauty, it is a paradise that leaves you wanting more. We returned on a Hawaiian vacation to find our dream land still existed.
- Desert Views-The Strange and Beautiful Plant Life of Arizona
There is more to the desert than scrub, rocks and dirt; but even these can be interesting in the right light. Take a journey with me and get a fresh look at everyday desert plant life.
- Hawaiian Islands Paradise-A Photographic Journey in Oahu Hawaii
Oahu Hawaii is full of contrasts. It is both breathtaking island beauty and busy metropolis. It has secret places and super-resorts that exist in their own paradise bubbles
- Deep in the Arizona Desert Just off the Highway
Pull off of the highway in the empty desert and drive down a dirt and gravel road to nowhere. You just might find a hidden treasure, an ancient monument, or some shotgun shells.
- Watson Lake and the Granite Dells in Prescott, Arizona
Watson Lake in Prescott Arizona is a scenic reservoir surrounding by giant natural sculptures called the Granite Dells. If you live in or plan on visiting Arizona, this is a must see destination.