Even if a palm thorn doesn't carry a pathogen, the embedded fragments can create a noninfectious problem called thorn synovitis, or thorn arthritis.
According to Medicine Net.com, the thorn fragment often affects the lining tissue -- synovium -- of the joint it pierces.
To assist repairing the bark and preventing rot and sunburn, I have used the following mix with success, particularly on Rambutan trees, as they react to the commercially-available black mastic-like wound dressing. Do not use oil-based paint as it adversely affects the tree.
Use very fine quicklime and add the water to it, slowly. It is important that any damaged bark be removed and broken branches pruned neatly.
There are a few devastating diseases, such as oak wilt, that are introduced through insects feeding off pruning cuts, then spread from tree to tree via the roots.
Wound paint can reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of these infections, so some tree experts feel that the downside of wound paint is better than the risk of spreading this disease throughout a neighborhood.
It took two ultrasound exams to locate the tiny bits of palm thorn debris causing the infection and limiting the range of motion in the boy's knee.
Hospitalization lasted more than a week and involved surgery to remove the fragments and wash out the infection. Patients with palm-thorn problems may be unaware of what has caused their discomfort.
Treatment with antibiotics is urgent if bacterial or fungal infection is present.
Eliminating infection also requires surgical removal of thorn fragments.
Infections are particularly likely if the debris carries fungal toxins or soil bacteria, such as Pantoea agglomerans.