The bunny ear cactus is fun to look after, and its striking appearance – resembling a cheerful rabbit – makes for interior decor. Things quickly take a turn for the absolute worse when you get a little too close for comfort: when the incredibly tiny spines (called glochids) get lodged in your skin.
These glochids are unlike the ones found on regular cacti in California that have much larger spines, so you can’t use tweezers (at least not without putting yourself through extreme pain and discomfort).
You would be surprised to know just how easily the glochids come off. All it takes is an accidental touch when you’re passing by or caring for the plant to get pierced. Getting them out of your skin can be a nightmare event.
Here’s what you can do when stabbed by bunny ear cactus spines.
|Quick Guide to Removing Cactus Needles
|Works for larger needles
|Apply glue or duct tape
|Works best for smaller needles that are too small for tweezers
|Apply a poultice of plantain
|The poultice of plantain helps trapped spines emerge from beneath the skin.
|Disinfect the wound
|For obvious reasons, you should cover the wound with a sterile bandage to prevent an infection.
You can still use tweezers if the spines are big enough. But you must resist the temptation of grabbing the spines with your bare hands. The embrace of cactus spines is like that of an anaconda – the more you struggle, the tighter its hold gets. This is why you should take it easy to try to use tweezers if the spines are straight and large.
But be careful not to apply too much force because the spies can break, leaving off smaller pieces lodged under the skin. You can tell that all the spines haven’t been removed from the area if it feels painful when you apply gentle pressure.
To prevent the spines from breaking apart, try to remove them in a straight, single option. If the spine made its way deep into your skin, locate the tip furthest away from the wound and gently remove it.
Now that you have dealt with the bigger needles, you can make your way to the smaller ones. Tweezers won’t help you in this case because these spines are more rigid and too short to be captured.
The best way to clear them out is to put on protective leather gloves and apply duct tape to the affected area. Stick the duct tape over the spines and remove them as if you were waxing a beard.
Alternatively, you can also apply a small layer of PVA glue to the damaged area. Now leave it to dry in the air. You may also press gauze across the glue for it to dry. Once the solution has dried, you can start to peel it slowly. Combining gauze surface and dried glue will pull out most of the glochids from the skin.
You can also use wax hair remover that works just like glue. Apply the wax hair remover to the damaged skin to remove the cacti spines. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying and removing the wax.
If the glochids are lodged too deeply into the skin, you should allow them to work their way out of the skin over the course of the next few days before applying any of the above solutions.
Alternatively, you should go to a medical doctor if the spines are lodged too deeply.
Once the spines have been removed from the skin, clean the wound with the help of water and soap. You can also apply antibiotic ointment to prevent the chances of an infection. Cover the wound with sterile adhesive bandages.
You should never allow cactus spines to stay inside your skin for long because they can lead to bacterial and fungal infections. It is important to remove the spines as soon as possible. If you’re not ready to remove them yourself, consider going to a doctor instead. But it would be best if you took action quickly to prevent an infection.
What if I’m Unable to Remove the Spines?
The human body is surprisingly effective with its defenses. It is possible that you may have left some of the spines under the skin because they were out of reach. In this case, the body will surround the spine with pus to push it out of the skin. This process will take a few days.
Hint: Consider applying a poultice of plantain to the affected site to help the trapped cactus needle emerge from the skin. You can use a pair of tweezers to pull it out.
It’s not a good sign if you develop a fever because it indicates an infection. The damaged wound may be infected if it’s swollen, red, or tender. It would be best to take this seriously because the infection could lead to blood poisoning and other serious conditions.
Always Assess the Level of Damage from the Spine
The likelihood of you dying from the cactus spines is extremely low. But you can’t underestimate the level of damage these plants can do. This is especially true if you happen to slip and fall on top of them.
Many visitors unfamiliar with cactus spines may not pay attention to their surroundings and pay the price for getting too close to the bunny ear cactus.
It is also possible for the spines to make their way into sensitive areas of the body. For example, if you touch the cactus and then itch your eye or nose, these little glochids won’t spare your face.
This can be problematic because dealing with the glochids when you can’t see them is especially difficult.
Sometimes the glochids can irritate the skin so badly that it leads to an infection. If not treated right away, the infection could lead to the formation of pustules that last for several months and create dead skin that has to be surgically removed.
Some cases of infection often attract bacteria that cause gas gangrene. So bunny ear cactus spines are not to be taken lightly. But the good news is that most people won’t have to face these problems – as long as they quickly remove the spines.
If the level of damage is too much for you to handle, then you should make your way to the emergency room and let the experts handle it.
Finally, it would be best if you took great caution when dealing with bunny ear cactuses in the future. Try to be more mindful of your surroundings and never underestimate the prickling potential of glochids. The bunny ear cactus needs an excuse – any excuse – to stab your skin with its needles. This is why you should admire your cactus from a distance.
And if you must handle the cactus, do so with a pair of gardening gloves, eyewear, and forceps.
It should go without saying that some cases are best handled by an expert. If you tried tweezers, glue, and other methods without much success: go to a doctor immediately. Let us know if you’ve ever been pricked by bunny ear cactus spines and how you dealt with them.
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- Bunny Ear Cactus Drooping
- Why do Cactus Have Spines Instead of Leaves?
- My Cactus Is Turning Yellow At The Bottom
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.