What Happens If You Leave a Cactus Needle In?

Cactus are teeming with prickly spines that can get embedded in your skin. If you do not remove them properly, you can create infection or pustules. Sometimes the infection can even lead to staphylococcus infection, or staph infection for short.

Make sure to remove a cactus needle as soon as possible because you want to avoid getting infected. The majority of people remove cactus needles instantly, but it can happen that you won’t notice a cactus needle inside your skin.

The easiest way is to use ducktape. Try to do it slowly and avoid putting too much pressure on the cactus needle.

Will a Cactus Needle Cause Infection?

Yes, as stated above, if you do not remove all of the needles in your body, you can create an infection. Signs of infection are redness, puffiness, and pus coming from the area where a spine punctured you. That’s what happens if you leave a cactus needle in.

If an infection caused by cactus spines is left untreated, it can lead to a staph infection. As you may already know, a staph infection can lead to death if not cared for swiftly.

It can even lead to pustules. Pustules are formed when a spine gets embedded underneath the skin. It can cause the skin in that area to turn black. The only way to remove a pustule is to do so surgically.

Does a Cactus Needle Hurt?

Yes, absolutely cacti needles hurt. We highly recommend that you avoid touching cacti plants if they have spines. If you do not follow this rule of thumb, you will surely be pricked, and it will be painful.

Are Cactus Needles Poisonous?

In short, no. The needles themselves are not poisonous. Not a single cactus plant on the planet has poisonous spines.

Infections are caused by bacteria and fungus that are sometimes attached to a cactus spine.

Also, any type of wound is susceptible to infection if you do not properly clean it. Cleaning a cactus spine injury includes removing the needles properly.

Do All Cacti Have Needles?

No, not all cacti have needles. Some cacti resemble succulents that do not have spines.

This may come as a surprise to you, but it is actually true. One of the most famous spineless cactus is peyote. Other spineless cacti include bishop’s cap, feather cactus, and golf ball cactus.

Best Practices to Remove Cactus Needles

Best Practices to Remove

A few methods will help you remove cactus spines safely to reduce your risk of infection.

A quick tip: If the needles are sticking out longer than one-quarter inch, use scissors to trim them down to that length.

If you do not, you risk breaking the spine off at the puncture point, which will make it increasingly difficult to remove the spine.

Try to remove needles with needle-nose tweezers.

Take a look at the affected area. Look carefully for the cactus needles and carefully pull them out. Do your best to do this in an upward motion. Only tweeze one needle at a time.

Remove cactus spines with duct tape.

You can remove cactus spines, especially glochids, with duct tape. Glochids are teeny tiny hairlike spines that are difficult to see and remove with tweezers.

Always disinfect the affected area after removing needles.

Once you have removed the spine/s successfully, you should disinfect the area. Use an antiseptic like hydrogen peroxide. It is also advisable to use a skin healing salve or an antibacterial ointment (Neosporin).

Try soaking in a warm bath.

If all else fails, soaking the affected area in a warm bath will encourage the spines to exit the body naturally. If you add Epsom salts to the bath, you will help reduce pain and inflammation as well.

Up the ante with a plantain salve.

Plaintain is a wild plant that has many skin healing properties. It can reduce infection and inflammation.

Additionally, it has drawing properties that will help the body naturally extract the needles of cacti.

Clean the area first and try to remove the needles. Then apply the salve. It will ensure you reduce the risk of infection and will help draw out any remaining debris.

Does a Cactus Needle Hurt when You Leave It In?

How To Remove Cactus Needles From Clothes

The needles of cacti can be quite painful if they puncture your skin. If they get embedded underneath the skin, they can cause infections.

It can even lead to a serious infection, staph infection. Improper removal of cactus spines may also lead to pustules—these need to be surgically removed.

Because of the risks involved with improper removal of needles, you must follow these guidelines.

You do not want a quick interaction with cacti to cause long-term issues. It would help if you never tried to remove cacti needles with your fingers or teeth. Always use the tools mentioned above.

You would also be glad to clean the infected area once the needles are removed.


If you apply antibiotic ointment, salve, and soak it in a warm bath with Epsom salts, you will add another layer of safety from infections. However, do your best to avoid touching cacti in the first place. Just stand back and admire their beauty, don’t get hurt out there!

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