We were getting ready to climb at El Rito this weekend, when I noticed an irritating cactus spine injury on my ankle was painful enough to make me limp. The injury was already two weeks old, red, and inflamed. After some research and soliciting some advice, I decided to stay off of it for a while, keep it elevated, soak it regularly, and keep a close watch out for any signs of blood poisoning. The photo is actually another week later, after a weekend out. It’s definitely slowly getting better, but my research indicates that it could be a few months before all the minute barbs fester out. Fun!
After quite a bit of surfing on the subject, this is my plan for the next time I get stuck:
- Pull out spines with tweezers. Pull them like a tick, gripping as close to the skin as possible. It’s easy to leave microscopic bits embedded in the skin even so.
- There may be spines too small to see or pull. Coat the the area with Elmer’s glue, let it dry, and rip it off. This can remove many smaller spines.
- Wash the site, apply antibiotic ointment, and cover.
Helpful info I got from the tubes:
- Penetrating cactus spine injury to the mediastinum of a child – good summary.
- Cactus Skin Injuries – good summary.
- Cactus Spine Injuries – good summary.
- Still removing spines after 8 months
- Cactus Bontanical Info with a good section on spine removal.
- Cactus Dermatitus – technical, but information-rich.