To say the avocado is “having a moment” is bit of an understatement. What’s brunch these days without a little bit of smashed avocado on a piece of toast? The fleshy fruit rich in healthy fats is more popular than ever, but in addition to surging prices, avocado fans may have one more thing to worry about. The number of injuries caused by improper handling and cutting of avocados is on the rise.
More people injure themselves while cutting avocados more than any other food. Why? Because people think it is a good idea to swiftly bring the largest blade in their home down toward their open palm to remove the avocado’s pit.
It looks easy, but obviously isn’t. If it were, #avocadohand wouldn’t be trending. No guacamole is worth stitches or an ER visit. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop eating the green delicacy. We’ve got a Q&A below with one of the region’s top hand specialists, Orthopedic Institute surgeon, Dr. David Jones, who will help us navigate the proper way to cut an avocado (and other fruits) and what to do IF you do cut yourself:
1. Have you seen an increase in your clinic of patients with #AvocadoHand?
Yes, unfortunately it is not rare to see individuals with significant cuts to their hand or fingers as a result of carelessly cutting avocados.
2. What is the proper way to safely cut an avocado and other fruits?
Probably the most important tip is to avoid holding the avocado while cutting toward your hand. Keep the avocado on the cutting board, keep your fingers clear and rotate the avocado while cutting it. Give thought to where the knife will plunge if it slips. Use an appropriate medium sized sharp knife so that you don’t have to press hard to cut the avocado. Avoid stabbing the pit to remove it, but rather quarter the avocado and then remove the pit with a spoon.
3. If you find yourself with a nasty cut, what should you do?
Hold pressure to control the bleeding. The hand has a robust blood supply so the bleeding can often be dramatic. Wash the hand with soap and water. Apply a Band-Aid or gauze wrap. If the cut extends all the way through the skin you should seek medical attention.
4. How can I tell if I should head straight to the ER, or can wait and call to make an appointment with you?
If there is difficulty controlling the bleeding or certainly if the tip of the finger is white and does not pink back up after you press on it, you should seek immediate care in the ER. Otherwise, if the finger has good blood flow and the bleeding is controlled seeking care in an urgent care or walk-in clinic is appropriate. A common problem we see with these injuries is a relatively minor appearing cut on the surface can damage major structures like nerve, arteries and tendons which are just beneath the skin in the hand and fingers.
So the cut gets neglected and there is delay in recognizing that one of the deeper structures has been injured which makes the repair and recovery much more difficult. So if you have the misfortune of sustaining a cut to the hand or fingers make sure you check that you can feel light touch along both sides of the finger tips and bend each knuckle of the finger that was cut. If there is any doubt, it is better to be evaluated sooner rather than later so that if surgery is necessary to can be done in a timely fashion.
5. Final question…do you prefer your guacamole smooth or chunky?
Our fellowship trained hand surgeons can help you with “avocado hand” and other hand problems. Make an appointment with Dr. Jones or Dr. Curd today!