Avocados are America’s latest object of food affection. However, many people are paying for their passion for the fruit with serious hand injuries.
From everyday people to celebrities, more people are suffering the effects of avocado hand. This injury occurs when someone slices their hand or finger while trying to prep their favorite fruit for eating.
July 31 marks National Avocado Day. As this relatively new holiday approaches, doctors across the nation are bracing for an influx of patients suffering from a stabbed hand.
Avocado Day, however, isn’t the only day that results in a surge of avocado hand cases. The Super Bowl is also a big day for avocado hand.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Americans consume over 160 million pounds of avocados. As people prepare this delightful treat, many of them hurt themselves in the process.
To learn how to keep yourself safe from avocado hand, continue reading.
A Food Lover’s Tale of Avocado Hand
Phil Vettel loves food. He loves it so much that he’s a Chicago Tribune restaurant critic.
You’d think that he’s the last person that would ever suffer from a case of avocado hand. Nevertheless, the epicurean expert did just that one day as he was trying to enjoy a delicious avocado.
A Chicago Tribune lifestyle article recounts how Vettel thinks, writes and – of course – eats food for a living. The article goes on to highlight the beauty and deliciousness of the fruit.
Avocado is a smooth, seductive fruit. It’s also contradictory. Avocado is fatty, yet it’s healthy – go figure.
Nevertheless, it’s delicious. What’s more, millions of Americans agree. On average, the typical American consumer eats 7 pounds of avocado each year.
As for Vettel, it appears that no one is immune to avocado hand. In the article, the food commentator recalls that he just sharpened his knives.
Using his fine cutlery, he cut his avocado into two perfect halves. He recalls the blade sliding through the fruit like butter.
Next, the columnist says, he remembers having trouble removing the ping-pong ball-sized avocado pit. It didn’t want to budge, so he dug and hard with his knife to get it out.
Then, the Unthinkable Happened
Unfortunately, he was holding the avocado in his hand as he tried to plunge the blade into the pit. Next, his super sharp cutlery slipped off the pit and went right into his finger.
Alas! Vettel was a victim of avocado hand.
After the incident, Vettel says he remained calm, which is important after an injury. Nevertheless, his stabbed hand continued to bleed.
Eventually, he made his way to the local ER. While waiting for treatment, Vettel found out that he wasn’t the first celebrity foodie to fall victim to avocado hand. For instance, The View talk show host Joy Behar missed an episode because she had to stay in a hospital after developing an avocado hand-related infection.
Behar, however, isn’t the only celebrity avocado hand victim. Andi Dorfman and Meryl Streep have also experienced avocado hand injuries and posted about it on social media.
A Problem of Epidemic Proportions
Eventually, the NFL will host another Super Bowl. When they do, there’s a big chance that avocado hand injuries will spike once again.
Avocado hand injuries are so common that some doctors have labeled the condition as an epidemic. Research shows that there were over 50,000 avocado hand injuries between 1998 and 2017. However, more than half of those injuries occurred in the last ten years.
Also, this isn’t the sum of all avocado hand injuries. Some people are just too embarrassed to go to the hospital for the condition.
However, this is a mistake. People who don’t seek treatment after a severe avocado hand stab are taking a big chance.
An untreated cut can lead to an infection, so it’s important to have a severe hand injury examined.
In 2018, the number of avocado hand injuries neared nearly 9,000 cases. Almost all of the cases involved cutting a hand with a knife while cutting an avocado.
However, one case was noteworthy. A person injured themselves while picking avocados and slipping off a stool.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission collects data about avocado hand injuries in its database. Data shows that most avocado hand injuries occur among millennial females.
America is not the only nation suffering from an avocado hand epidemic. In 2017, a London physician described hand injuries while cutting avocados as a national scourge.
Are Avocados Dangerous?
These kinds of stories may leave you wondering, “Are avocados dangerous?” According to doctors, not so much.
Mayo Clinic doctor Matt Aizpuru believes that avocado hand isn’t happening more or less frequently. Alternatively, more people suffer from avocado hand because more people are eating avocados. As a result, avocado hand injuries are becoming commonplace.
What’s important is to remember not to cut the fruit while you’re holding it in your hand. This practice is the most common way that people hurt themselves and fall victim to avocado hand.
One study shows that as people consume more avocados, the number of avocado hand injuries rose in tandem.
In 1998, for instance, there were 650 avocado hand injuries. By 2017, however, there were close to 6,000. That’s almost a tenfold increase in avocado hand injuries.
Most avocado hand victims suffer damage to the left or nondominant hand. If you hold in avocado while you’re trying to remove the pit, it’s easy to cut yourself.
Dr. Aizpuru knows all too well the pain of avocado hand. It was his avocado hand stab that inspired his research. While in medical school, he sliced his hand while cutting an avocado to make guacamole.
The experience inspired a eureka moment. The doctor figured if it happened to him, it must have also happened to plenty of other people.
Now, Aizpuru is extra careful when he slices avocado. He even uses a heavy dishrag to protect his hand while he slices the fruit.
What Should I Do If I Cut My Hand?
Avocados have an odd oval shape and a thin, slippery outer peel. Resultantly, it’s hard to get a good grip on them.
Also, avocado – like the peach – is a stone fruit. It has a rock-hard pit that you should remove before you eat it.
Usually, a person will slice it in half lengthwise, then hold the half with the pit in their nondominant hand. Then, they’ll use their avocado knife hand to get the pit out any way that they can.
However, this method is the most likely way to cut yourself when trying to remove the pit. If the knife slips off the pit, it will most likely jam right into your hand or fingers.
Physicians have diagnosed avocado hand victims with symptoms that range from mild to severe. Some look like small cuts and others look like stab wounds. In some extreme cases, however, avocado hand victims have suffered damage to muscles, nerves and tendons.
Each year, avocados become more popular. As they do, more people suffer from avocado hand.
Avocado hand can result in heavy bleeding or infection. Because of these threats, it’s essential to understand the warning signs of a major injury and seek assistance if needed.
If you have a minor cut, clean and bandage it right away. If the cut’s deeper, wash it out gently with soap and water.
Next, apply pressure to try to stop the bleeding. If the edges are smooth and start to knit together, a bandage will most likely suffice.
Should I Seek Treatment for My Injury?
Bleeding should stop after compressing the wound for 10 to 15 minutes. If bleeding doesn’t stop after a cut to your hand or finger after applying pressure for a few minutes, you should seek help right away.
Also, if you suffer a deep gash or wound that exposes tissues, muscles or tendons, you should go to the emergency room immediately. If you suffer a cut or wound that is more than a quarter of an inch deep, you should seek the care of a medical professional.
You should also seek immediate treatment if your injury affects the movement of any joints. Also, if you have a gaping wound with edges that you cannot push together, you may need stitches. Seek medical attention right away.
You should also seek medical attention if you lose feeling near the injury or in other areas of your hand after cutting yourself. The same recommendation applies if something feels different in your hand near the wound.
If you cut a joint in your finger or hand or can’t bend or move your fingers, go directly to the ER. If – for some reason – the knife was dirty, you face an increased risk of infection, so you should seek help right away. Finally, if you suffer a minor injury and it hasn’t improved in about seven days, seek medical attention.
The first Avocado Day took place on July 31, 2015. Since then, physicians have seen an increase in hand injuries each year as a holiday comes and goes. However, you can avoid avocado hand with a few helpful tips.
Handling Avocados the Safe Way
To begin with, make sure you use a sharp knife when slicing avocados. If your knife isn’t sharp, you’ll have to use more force. A dull blade increases the chances that the blade will slip and cut your hand.
Also, make sure that you choose a ripe avocado. An unripe avocado is tough and difficult to cut.
You should also take it easy when cutting an avocado. Instead of digging right into it, slide the blade back and forth rather than stabbing into it.
Of course, there’s the pit. This unwanted portion is where most people get in trouble.
Instead of trying to cut the pit out of the avocado, stick the knife into the pit and turn it. This action will enable you to free that big, undesirable seed from your delicious treat and enjoy the “fruit” of your labor.
If you’re not comfortable with poking the tip of your knife into the seed, there’s another method that you can try. After washing and drying your avocado, put it on a cutting board.
Next, cut it in half lengthwise around the pit. As you’re cutting, keep the fruit flat on the cutting board.
Now, rotate the avocado a quarter turn and cut lengthwise around the pit again. When you’re finished, you should have avocado quarters.
Now, put that knife away. You can safely remove the pit using only your hands, eliminating any chance of avocado hand injury.
Some doctors recommend removing the pit with a spoon. It’s not as cool as cutting it out with a knife, but it’s much safer. At least you won’t cut your hand.
Putting Your Hands in Good Hands
People use their hands for a lot of things. Cutting and injuring your hands are part of life. Often, it’s unavoidable.
No one wants to admit that they are sick or injured. However, you must take care of your hands. You need them for almost everything.
Incidents of avocado hand are on the rise. Avocado hand can result in more than pain, left unchecked, the injury can severely inhibit the use of your hand. If you suffered an injury that’s only getting worse, it’s better to get it checked sooner rather than waiting.
The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas are here to protect you from suffering severe and long-term damage to your hands. If you suffer from avocado hand or any other hand laceration, contact us today to book an appointment and start your healing journey right away.