What Happens If Get Pricked by A Prickly Pear Cactus?

pricked by prickly pear cactus

Ouch, the sound heard from my 10 years old boy’s mouth,  I was traveling in a desert area with my family. I discovered that he was caught by a prickly pear cactus. As a result, he faced some consequences. Today, I have decided to share with you what may possibly happen when you get pricked by prickly pear cactus. In addition, what are the solutions when you get poked by cactus? 

  • Lead to pustules
  • Black spots of dead skin
  • Staph infections or gas gangrene
  •  Feel pain in the poked area
  • Inflammation,
  • Infection,
  • Allergic reactions, 
  • Granuloma formation,
  • Swelling,
  • Stiffness, 
  • Loss of range of motion, 
  • Pain,
  • Terrible itching, and
  •  Burning.

Sometimes small things in life become a big issue. So don’t ignore it as small barbs. It may become a sword-like danger in your life. Let’s explore what are all possible outcomes when you are picked by a cactus.

Can Cactus Spines Make You Sick?

Some people are lucky, but some are not so. Within a few days or a week, some people recover. Those who do not belong to the lucky group may face severe situations for a long time.

Some possible outcomes you may face when you are pricked by prickly pear cactus

such as irritation, toxic mediated reactions, and allergic reactions.

That’s not the most likely outcome, though. “Most people are going to do okay,” Dieter says. “They’ll get over it in a few days or a week or two, but in some people it goes on a long time.”--Popular Science

What Happens if you Leave Cactus Needles in your Hand?

Not everyone will be infected by cactus needles. But some may be infected by the bacteria which can create staphylococcus infections or gas gangrene. Moreover, little black spots of dead skin and pustules could be the negative outcomes also.

Why Do Cactus Pricks Hurt So Much?

Anderson said in a press release that The barbs catch on your muscle fibers, making it difficult to remove them.

The researchers report their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

They found that the same biomechanical traits that allow cholla thorns and other barbed spines(e.g. Prickly pear cactus) to readily penetrate animal flesh also make the spines more difficult to dislodge. 

Can Being Pricked by a Cactus Cause Swelling?

Swelling is the common symptom of being pricked by the cactus. Parallel to swelling, stiffness, loss of range of motion, and pain can happen to joint lining tissue. 

Hairy spines tipped with barbs can easily penetrate into the skin and may become unrecognized by the wounded person. After a while, it can cause inflammation into the joining tissue. And more often it can cause granuloma formation, and disseminated infection. 

Causes of Injury

  • Irritation, pricks, punctures and infection from:
    • spines and glochids of cacti
    • Splinters
  • Source: MSU TEXAS

Can You Die from a Cactus Needle?

Prickly pear cactus barbs aren’t as poisonous as you are thinking.It doesn’t mean that you will leave the tips of barbs under your skin. Because it may cause some danger in your life.


Can Humans Digest Cactus Needles?

Humans and animals can digest any cactus needles. That doesn’t mean that people should consume cactus thorns. If any of the tips of barbs are stuck in your throat it may get into collagen and muscle.

In addition, it may be a serious issue for babies if they consume it.

What Happens If My Dog Gets Pricked by a Cactus?

In most cases, cacti spines are stuck in your dog’s mouth, nose, legs, ears, and eyes. Though these barbs are not too dangerous for your dog, prickly pear cactus spines can give them extreme discomfort and pain.

Some more frailties can happen to your dog like: 

  1. Bleeding.
  2. Puncture wound.
  3. The wounded portion can become an asylum for bacteria.

What Happens If You Are Picked by the Moon or Barrel Cactus? 

  1. Moon flowers are toxic. It is harmful for  humans, chickens, pigs, cows, sheep, cats and dogs. 
  2. Barrel cactus reserve toxic sap into their ribs, which can cause irritation to dogs. 

What Do You Do If You Touch a Prickly Pear?

  1. Discard them from your touched area as much as possible.
  2. Wash your hands well and don’t stick your fingers in your eyes, ears and nose .
  3. You can use aloe vera juice .It works great against prickly spines. Certainly, your wounded skin will heal very quickly.
  4. There is another miraculous remedy called resin salve. 

Some more ways how to get rid of prickly pear cactus spine & glochids

Potato peeler: With a potato peeler, remove all the spines and glochids from your pads.

Blow-torch or flame: The pads can also be prepared by burning off the spines and glochids with a blowtorch or flame.

Another method of preparing the pads is to burn off the spines and glochids with a blow-torch or over a flame using the tongs.

Elmer’s glue or tape: This process is very simple. Just simply apply Elmer’s glue or tape on the spines where it is pricked and let it dry off. Now try to peel off your glue from the skin, see the spines are coming out with the glue.


Final Opinions: 

In summary, always wear gloves when you work with prickly pear cactus. Even though you may accidentally get prickly pear cactus needles; either you are in a cactus desert or you fall off in your garden. So many consequences may happen. But don’t be panicked!

Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

Recent Posts