How To Get Cactus Needles/Glochids Out Of Skin

how to get cactus needles/ glochids out of skin featured image

Cacti are pretty but can be painful if you touch them. Getting pricked by their needles, especially the tiny ones called glochids, can be annoying. If you’ve ever been stuck by a cactus and wondered how to get those needles out, you’re in the right place. I will show you simple ways to remove them from your skin in this article.

Cacti That Can Prick You

Most cacti have spines that can poke you. These spines look different depending on the type of cactus. However, their purposes include keeping animals away, giving the cacti more shade, and saving water. Here’s a brief list of some popular cacti and their spines:

  1. Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) – These giants of the Sonoran Desert have sharp spines that are particularly long and strong.
  2. Prickly Pear (Opuntia spp.) – These cacti have more prominent spines and tiny, hair-like glochids that can easily embed themselves in the skin and irritate.
  3. Cholla (Cylindropuntia spp.) – Cholla spines are notorious for detaching efficiently and sticking into anything (or anyone) that brushes up against them. Like the prickly pear, chollas also have glochids.
  4. Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus and Echinocactus spp.) – As the name suggests, these cacti are barrel-shaped and covered in long, thick spines. A few common candidates I can name here are the Golden Barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii), which is widely known for its bright golden spines, or the Fishhook barrel cactus (Ferocactus Wislizeni) with curved fishhook-like spines.
  5. Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria spp.) – These small cacti have dense arrays of spines, giving them a pincushion appearance.
  6. Organ Pipe Cactus (Stenocereus thurberi) – These tall, columnar cacti have slender spines.

Read more: Are Cactus Thorns Poisonous If They Prick Your Skin? Cactus Infection Symptoms & Solutions.

Ways To Remove Cactus Needles/ Glochids Out Of Skin

1. Tweeners

Here’s how to get those tiny cactus spines, called ‘glochids’ out using tweezers:

  1. Clean Up: First things first, wash your hands and the spot where the cactus got you. We want everything clean.
  2. Bright Light: Find a bright spot or use a flashlight. Those little spines can be hard to see.
  3. Tweezers to the Rescue: Grab a pair of tweezers and sterilize them with some soap or rubbing alcohol. Now, gently grip the tiny spine and pull it out the same way it went in. Easy does it!
  4. Look Again & Repeat: Those spines can be sneaky, so make sure you’ve gotten them all.
  5. Wash and Care: Rinse off the spot after you get everything done. It would be better if you continuously clean it a few days after.

If you’ve got lots of tiny spines, try this trick: Put some sticky tape on the spot and pull it off. It might grab some of those tricky ones. After that, use your tweezers for any left behind.

2. A thin layer of glue/ Duct tape

Another way to deal with those sneaky little cactus needles is the glue method. If you don’t have glue, you can use duct tape instead. First, give the spot with the needles a quick clean. Then, go to your kids’ room to get some white school glue to slab on the area. Let it dry up completely, then peel that glue/ duct tape right off. Most of those tiny needles should stick to the glue and come right off with it.

Remember, next time you’re around a cactus, maybe give it a little more personal space! And if a spot looks really red or feels weird, it’s a good idea to chat with a doctor.

What If Cactus Needles/Glochids Are On Your Clothes/ Hair

Other places where you often find cactus glochids unexpectedly are on your clothes or hair. Here is my way to deal with these issues: 

1. Clothes

Lay out the spiky part of your clothing flat and grab some duct tape. Press a piece of the tape firmly onto the spiky bits, then peel it off. Like magic, those annoying little spines should stick to the tape and come right off your clothes. You might need to do it several times to get them all. Once you’re done, shake your clothes and check for any sneaky ones left behind.

2. Hair

These are great tools that help deal with glochids on your hair:

  • Comb: Start using a comb to slide through your hair, trying to catch those tiny spines. The teeth of the comb should help pull them out. If any are being stubborn, you might need tweezers for those. 
  • Tweeners: Under good light, gently pull out each tiny spine using your tweezers. It’s a bit like looking for splinters. After, give your hair a quick comb to double-check. In case there is any stubborn cactus needles in your hair, we move to the following method …
  • Cut the hair: This might be the last option. It’s like if your hair is messed up with chewing gums. If you are comfortable with cutting your hair, this is the best way because you can cut your hair at whatever degree you want.

What If The Needles/Glochids Are Too Small? How to remove Microscopic Needles?

When you see microscopic needles/ glochids, my recommended method is warm water soaking. Because it will both ease you and make the removal easier by loosening up those tiny needles and softening your skin, follow this simple guide for details: 

Time needed: 20 minutes

A brief guide on how to deal with tiny/ microscopic cactus needles:

  1. Fill a bowl with warm water.

    Put the prickly spot in the water for about 10 minutes or until you feel less pain/ discomfort.

  2. Dry your hand a bit for the removal.

    You can now use either the tweezers or the duct tape/ glue trick to grab them out. As I stated in this guide, this step will take up to 10 minutes. However, it depends.

  3. Double-check and clean the affected skin. 

    See if there is anything left. If they are too small to remove, they will disappear in a few days and cause no discomfort. This is a natural process of decomposition. If you keep the affected area clean, there will be no infection.

Closing Up

Cacti are excellent but can hurt if you touch them. Follow the steps I mentioned, and you can quickly get rid of those annoying needles. Be careful around cacti; if a needle bothers you, asking a doctor for help is okay. Stay safe, and have fun with your plants!

More reads about cactus needles on SucculentCity:

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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