Long story short, we went on a Mother’s Day Mountain Adventure and Grant fell into a Prickly Pear cactus.
This is one knee, they also covered half of his other knee, the entire left side of his abdomen, the inside of his elbow, and of course, both hands. It was lovely. Each one of those red marks represents anywhere from 1 to about 20 needles.
Especially considering Prickly Pear cacti are one of two types of cactus that have the gnarly glochid needles. Those tiny, flesh colored, BARBED, needles that embed into skin by the dozens and are a true test of pain, patience, and grit to remove.
Now imagine 400-500 of them, mixed in with those big, honking, needles (those squirt blood and leave bruises after removing, just so you know.)
It was a looooong day, and we were faaaaaar from home (2.5 hours-ish) and Grant was a champ. Such a champ. Ho.ly. smokes, the pain that kid endured throughout the entire day as we removed those little pricks.
He DESERVED that rootbeer at lunch, yes he did.
“Wait, did you just say you went to lunch after your kid fell into a cactus?”
Yes, we did…at the request of the one that fell into the cactus. He wanted a rootbeer, what can I say? (side note: he doesn’t drink soda so he could have been bitten by a snake and would still have requested that aforementioned, promised rootbeer.) (Side, Side note: we would have taken him to the hospital had he been bitten by a snake.) Seriously, he was fine, though.
Ok, so there was about a 10 minute FA-REEK out. Like, what I would imagine a broken-bone freak out would be like. Which is, you know, TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE if you have just fallen in a cactus.
But there also was a bit of squirting blood after pulling out all of the big needles, so that didn’t help much…..
And did I mention they left bruises?!!?
Most importantly, we had to get those little ones out. Tweezers, yes….but I went to Pinterest (yes I did on our mountain adventure) and found there were probably three best ways to remove them. And I tried them all.
And I think all three of these methods could be used if you are dealing with a large, cactus needle and glochid removal.
White Glue Method – Apply white glue (Like Elmers) to affected area. Let dry. Peel off and the needles should come out with it. You might remember doing this in third grade. Perhaps you put markers in your glue to make it colored and then put it on your hand, watched it dry, and peeled it off? No, just me? Well, it was sort of like that (minus the marker-coloring part.)
This was probably the most effective method removing about 90% of the needles the glue covered. I used tweezers to get the remaining needles out.
or if you are a masochist, you could do the duct tape method - apply duct tape and rip off.
Not surprising, when you are applying pressure to NEEDLES. That are IN YOUR SKIN, it hurts. like. hell! An adult could handle the pain, probably a bit much for little ones to handle.
However, this was very effective and probably removed half of them from his one knee. But boy, did he ever shriek….so we only did that once.
Tweezers: This is pretty obvious right? But here are a few tips. Have a wet wipe (or something similar) next to you and after every needle pluck, wipe off the tweezers. They really want to stick into something and I found a lot of them taking interest in my fingers.
This takes a loooooong time and is slow and painful, but they are good for detail work. I recommend new (or sharpened), slanted, tweezers (more surface area to grab multiple needles). These little guys are surprisingly harder to remove then you would think. (think: barbed)
After care: You can expect some swelling in the area, but it went down after about 12 hours. When I talked to the on-call doctor at The Children’s Hospital, she told me I should be most concerned about infection so make sure to clean the area with an antibacterial soap and cover with a medicated ointment (think Neosporin or Bacatracin or, for a non-petroleum based option, you could make your own Homemade Natural Healing Salve, which I plan on doing here soon.)
Yesterday, my little dude was fine. Other than the red poke-marks all over his body, it was all systems go and his traumatic cactus experience did not get in the way of some hardcore playing yesterday.
Although he has declared approximately 72 times since the incident that he does not like cactus’s.
Which is, you know, totally understandable.