We have all had a paper cut. It is the tiny paper cuts that can hurt WAY more than a larger cut by say glass. Same is true with glochids within the opuntia family. Prickly pears are in this family.
The dots on a cactus are called areoles. This cluster is considered a cactus’ branches. The areole is where the spine is located. The spine is a larger stiff sharp point. The Opuntia family also have tiny spikes called glochids within the areola. These glochids are considered leaves. Their tiny size keeps water from evaporating too quickly.
If you’ve dealt with Cacti you’ve dealt with glochids. What is the best way to remove them? They have barbs on the end as added defense. It is best to use tweezers to remove them one by one, however they are hard to see. They can stay in your skin up to 9 months so removing them is important, and i would know. There are other methods to remove these glochids, like using duct tape. Gently cover the area with duct tape and rip those suckers out. Another one I have not tried is school glue. Apply a thick layer of glue to the area, let dry completely and peel away those nasty glochids.
Some helpful hints are to use the right tools when dealing this Opuntia family of cacti. Gloves, for me, make it hard to handle everything. I like to use tongs, chopsticks and paint brushes. If you are dealing with a bigger cactus take a sheet of news paper roll it up and make a scarf for your cactus. This way you’re holding on to the newspaper not the cactus.
Glochids are also found on the fruit of the prickly pear. These are easily burned off over a flame, and the fruit is delicious.
Now that you know about glochids and how to avoid them don’t shy away from the Opuntia family of cactus. They are amazing.