If you peel or cut avocados, you may be at a higher risk for avocado-hand injury.
So many people have visited emergency rooms recently for hand injuries related to this palm-sized creamy fruit, that “avocado hand” is now a diagnosis.
How do avocados cause hand injuries?
Well, it’s not actually the avocado. It’s the knife used to cut, peel, and pit the fruit.
Because of its small size, most people hold avocados in their hands to peel and pit them. Using a sharp knife and a little force, people pierce the tough outer skin.
Sometimes the blade slices through the creamy center, hits the hard ping pong sized pit, and exits through the other side of the avocado—right into the flesh of the fingers or hands holding the fruit.
Other times, people miss the pit when they try to embed the knife into the pit to remove it.
Sometimes injuries the blade cuts only cut the top layers of skin, at other times the injuries mimic deep gashes or stab wounds, cutting tendons, nerves, and muscles in the hands and fingers.
To avoid injury, use a safe cutting technique.
There are several ways to cut an avocado. Here’s one of the safe and easy ways we’ve found to peel and pit a ripe avocado.
• Place the avocado on a cutting board.
• Position the knife diagonally on the fruit and slice. Grasp the bottom of the avocado and rotate the fruit 360 degrees to cut it all the way around, taking care to keep your fingers away from the blade.
• Put down the knife. Pick up the avocado and twist the halves in opposite directions. The green flesh should separate.
• Gently squeeze the half that contains the pit. It should pop out.
• Nick the tough, outer skin with the knife. Grasp the edge with your fingers and pull the skin off. This technique preserves the deep green outside layer of the fruit, which contains the most beneficial nutrients.
• Now you can slice or cube the flesh. (If you will mash the avocado, you don’t have to peel it. You can scoop out each half with a spoon, making sure to get as close to the peel as possible.)
If your avocado is not ripe, you risk of injury could increase.
Whether you use this method, or you have another favorite technique for peeling pitted fruits, always place the fruit on a cutting board to slice the skin and reduce your risk of a hand injury.
What should you do if you cut your hand?
The first thing to do is to assess the injury. If you experience a minor cut, wash the area and cover it with a sterile bandage.
If the cut is more than ¼ of an inch deep, slices a joint, cuts through a tendon, or severs a finger, seek medical attention at the nearest Emergency Department.
Serious hand injuries need the care of a board-certified hand specialist or a trained hand surgeon.
Why do I need a hand expert if I injure my hand?
Your hands and fingers move because of the complex interaction between the 27 bones and the muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments that make up your hand. This intricate design means you can suffer a significant loss-of-function during a minor injury.
When any of your hand’s connecting tissues are cut, it can lead to loss of movement if they are not repaired properly. The longer you wait for treatment, the harder the injury is to repair.
“Injuries to the hand need the correct treatment to prevent a permanent loss of movement,” said Dr. Pamela Glennon, a fellowship-trained and board-certified hand surgeon at Bone & Joint. “When a hand or finger injury happens, people should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.”