The Banana Trick

The Banana Trick

When there is a splinter, sliver of glass, remaining tick part (those darn ticks can be tricky to completely remove), or any other unwanted foreign object under the skin, the customary plan of attack is to go in after it with a sterilized needle. Rather than expecting your child (or queasy adult) to withstand this uncomfortable exploration or worse, leaving it alone in peril of becoming painfully red, swollen and infected, call forth the banana as hero of the day. A ripened banana peel is rich in enzymes. It is the drawing action of the enzymes that will pull the foreign matter to the surface of the skin.

You’ll be creating a poultice which sounds like an ancient preparation. A poultice is merely a moist mass of herb which, when applied to the skin, has a remedial action, usually that of drawing toxin from the body or soothing the skin. Think cold cucumber slices or moistened chamomile tea bags applied to the eyes to relieve swelling and itching…these are poultices!


  • Cut a 1” square piece from the peel of a ripened banana to cover the affected area.
  • Apply the pulp side of the banana peel against the skin.
  • Hold the banana peel in place with a piece of surgical tape. The best tape I’ve found for moist applications is a surgical tape made of shiny fabric. They are usually found in pharmacies in a variety of widths.
  • Leave on overnight. In the morning, the banana will have drawn the foreign matter to the surface, ready for easy removal or, better still, may show in the peel when you remove it from the skin.

More deeply embedded splinters may require one or two more nights of this treatment, in which case you should use a fresh section of peel each time. A panicked mother called me when her 2 year old got a very deep splinter in his foot from her deck which was made from pressure treated (toxin laden) wood. A trip to the pediatrician did not resolve the issue for he was not willing to cut into the foot to remove the splinter. I suggested three nights of a banana poultice and, as expected, the splinter was drawn to the surface for easy removal.

The fruit of the banana yields the same enzymes when ripe but is messier to apply. My rule of thumb is: make sure the poultice is neat or they’ll never allow you to poultice them again! That being said, when one of my sons was in elementary school he was upset that he developed a pimple, whitehead style, the day before school photographs. It looked like it needed draining so we mashed up a small piece of ripe banana (letting your child help in the process makes them want the remedy even more) and smeared it on the pimple, letting it dry before he went to sleep. His skin was clear in the morning and he felt photograph-worthy.

In an effort to keep my sugar intake low, I have not eaten bananas in a very long time because they are a high glycemic fruit, so I do not have them on hand for splinter emergencies. And this is certainly not a remedy you can carry around in your first aid kit. But ripe bananas can be found anywhere in the world you may be if suddenly needed. I guarantee this is a remedy your child will broadcast to the neighborhood, and that it will catch on like wildfire. It certainly did in my neck of the woods!

Andrea Candee, MH, MSC, is a master herbalist with a practice in Westchester County. She lectures throughout the country and at corporate wellness centers about taking charge of your health naturally. Media expert and author, her award-winning book, Gentle Healing for Baby and Child (Simon & Schuster), received The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval. Visit www.AndreaCandee.com (to receive her free e-letter, click on Did You Know?), or at 877 856 7680.