The average millennial household spent almost $25 on avocados in the span of a single year. Unfortunately, it seems like millennials should save that money for medical expenses instead.
In the same year, avocados caused about 8,900 emergency room visits. That’s 24 avocado-related hospital visits every day.
How is this fruit hurting so many guacamole and avocado toast lovers? Namely, people are slicing into avocados the wrong way. Wrapping your fingers around an avocado while cutting into it could cause avocado hand.
What is avocado hand, exactly, and what should you do if you sustain this injury? Keep reading to find out.
In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about these hand injuries. If you experience complications, you’ll know to seek treatment right away.
Read on to learn more about what to do if you sustain an avocado injury today!
What is Avocado Hand?
First, let’s answer the question that’s likely on your mind: what is avocado hand?
Most people sustain this injury when incorrectly cutting or preparing an avocado. Most people hold the fruit in their non-dominant hand. Then, they use a knife to slice the fruit in half and remove the pit from the center.
Once they’ve removed the pit, most people use their dominant hand to peel and cut the avocado.
In some cases, the knife slips through the avocado fruit’s soft flesh. The knife could cut into your hands or fingers as a result.
In some cases, the knife might miss or slide off the pit while you’re trying to remove it. The blade could cut into your flesh instead. In other cases, the knife could slip through the cut’s soft interior after the pit is removed.
Either way, these incidents cause avocado hand. This injury resembles a stab wound. Depending on the depth of the cut, it can range in severity from mild to serious.
If you have a mild case, you can treat the wound at home. In moderate cases, you might need stitches.
More severe cases, however, can damage the tendons, nerves, or muscles in your hand. You might require hand surgery as a result.
Between 1998 and 2017, an estimated 50,413 people visited an emergency room for an avocado hand injury. In 1998, about 650 of these injuries occurred. By 2017, these cases increased 10-fold.
The increase of avocado consumption in the US has increased avocado hand injuries as well.
Treating Avocado Hand at Home
If you’ve only sustained a minor injury, you won’t need to go to the hospital. Instead, consider treating your avocado hand injury at home. These steps can ensure your body heals properly.
It could also help you avoid an infection.
First, make sure to apply pressure to your wound. Pressure can help staunch the bleeding. You can use either a clean towel or gauze.
Remain patient. It might take a few minutes before you stop the bleeding.
If the bleeding doesn’t stop, you might require stitches. Seek medical attention right away.
Once the bleeding stops, wash the cut with lukewarm or cool water. Use mild or antibacterial soap to clean the wound.
Washing the cut will remove any debris from your wound, which can help you avoid an infection.
Once the wound is clean, cover it with sterile dressing. You’ll need to keep the bandage clean. Make sure to change it as necessary.
If you receive stitches, you’ll need to care for them as well. Keep them clean and dry until you get your stitches removed.
When to Seek Medical Help
The majority of people who sustained avocado-related knife injuries were women (80.1%). Injuries were more common on the left (and likely non-dominant) hand. If you sustained an avocado hand injury, it’s important to recognize when to seek help.
Otherwise, leaving the wound unattended could lead to a serious infection.
You should seek professional medical attention if:
- The cut is deep
- The cut has exposed your subcutaneous tissue
- You can’t stop the bleeding
- The cut is on or across a joint
- You’re experiencing a loss of sensation in your hand
- The wound is large or gapping
- You can’t close the edges of the wound together
Otherwise, it’s important to watch out for the signs of an infection. Signs of an infection can include:
- Burning or pain with urination
- Stiff neck
- Nasal congestion
- A new cough
- A change in your cough
- Chills and sweats
- Redness, soreness, or swelling to the wound
- Unusual vaginal discharge or irritation
- Increased urination
- New onset of pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Mouth sores
Let your doctor know if you experience any of these symptoms.
In most cases, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat your bacterial infection. Antibiotics target specific bacterial processes. They can either keep the bacteria from multiplying or kill them outright.
If your infection is only mild, your doctor might prescribe an oral course of antibiotics. Make sure to take the entire course of antibiotics. Otherwise, some of the bacteria might survive, giving the infection the chance to come back.
If your infection is serious, you might need to receive treatment at a hospital. You can receive a stronger course of antibiotics via an IV.
How long can it take for you to recover from an avocado hand injury?
The recovery time can vary depending on the severity of your injury. If it’s only a mild cut that you treated at home, it might take a few days. The cut will need to close before it’s fully healed.
If you have a moderate cut, it might require stitches. In most cases, you’ll have your stitches removed after a week or so. You can talk to your doctor to determine when you’ll get your stitches removed.
A more severe injury, however, will require stitches and surgery. Your recovery period might take between a few weeks or months. The recovery period will vary depending on the procedure.
If you receive surgery, your doctor might immobilize your hand. You might need to keep your hand in a bandage or splint for that time.
During the recovery period, you might need to limit certain movements and activities.
Your doctor might recommend physical therapy as well.
The global avocado market could reach $17.9 billion by 2025. As avocado consumption continues to rise, avocado hand injuries may as well. One of the best ways to prevent avocado hand injuries is to learn how to properly cut an avocado.
First, determine if the avocado is ripe. A less-ripe, harder avocado will require more force when you cut into it. Unfortunately, using more force could increase your risk of injury.
If you fail to check the avocado’s ripeness, you might use too much force. Cutting into the avocado too quickly could cause the knife to slip. You might unintentionally cut yourself as a result.
Don’t hold the avocado in your hand when you cut into it.
Instead, place the avocado onto a cutting board. You might want to place a towel under your cutting board, too.
The towel will secure the cutting board onto your countertop. Otherwise, it could slip when you cut into the avocado. You could cut yourself.
Start at the stem end of the avocado. Then, make a little cut using the tip of your knife. Cut down toward the pit in the middle of the fruit.
When cutting into the avocado, turn the fruit, not the knife.
Holding the avocado in both hands, give it a gentle twist to separate the two sides. Then, take the tip of your knife and cut a few slices, stopping at the skin. Make sure to avoid penetrating the skin.
For the side with the pit, grab a towel. Place the towel under the avocado. Then, use your knife to give the pit a hard whack.
The seed should come out when you lift the knife.
You can use extra caution by using a spoon to remove the avocado pit instead of a knife. Simply slip the spoon under and around the pit. Then, scoop the pit away from the fruit.
Otherwise, use these tips for avoiding hand injuries at home.
Proper Cutting Technique
Using proper cutting techniques can take time and practice. Make sure to go slow. Otherwise, rushing through the process could result in a hand injury.
First, make sure to hold the knife as if you’re gripping someone’s hand. When holding the knife, rest your pointer finger at the top of the handle.
This will help you guide the knife.
Start at the end of the avocado that’s closest to you. With the avocado resting on your cutting board, cut away from yourself.
Here are a few other ways you can keep yourself safe from avocado hand.
Remember, it’s important to wash and wrap your avocado hand injury right away. Otherwise, germs could get into the sensitive tissue beneath your skin. An infection could form two to three days after you sustain the injury.
An infected cut could grow more painful over time. You might notice:
- The skin around the cut is red and feels hot
- Swelling around the cut
- Yellow pus oozing from the cut as the infection progresses
You might also experience aches, pains, or a fever. You could experience malaise, too. Malaise is a feeling of discomfort, weakness, or fatigue.
If you experience these symptoms, it’s likely your infection has started to spread.
Caring for Your Wound
If your wound starts to look red around the edges, wash it with soap and water. Use antiseptic solutions such as hydrogen peroxide the day you cut yourself. Don’t use it more than once, though.
Once the wound is clean, cover it using an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin.
Then, bandage the wound until new skin heals the cut.
If the cut oozes pus or redness continues to spread, visit a doctor. Don’t try to treat your infection at home.
When left untreated, an infection can spread to deeper tissues beneath your skin. Cellulitis can occur as a result. The infection will continue traveling through your blood to other parts of your body.
You’ll likely develop a fever as your body tries to fight the infection.
In some cases, cellulitis can develop into a more severe infection, sepsis. In other cases, you could develop skin infections like impetigo. The infection could become an abscess as well.
In rare situations, an infected cut could develop into necrotizing fasciitis as well. This condition is also known as the flesh-eating disease.
Make sure to contact a doctor right away if you sustain a severe avocado hand injury. They can minimize your risk of infection.
Some factors can increase your risk of developing an infected cut from your avocado hand injury. These conditions include:
- Having type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- Being overweight
- Being cut by a dirty knife
- Having a weakened immune system (possibly due to an autoimmune disease, chemotherapy treatments, or steroids)
- Having a cut that’s large, deep, or jagged-edged
- Being an older adult
Your risk of infection could also increase if a piece of the knife remains within the wound. Make sure to clean your wound right away.
There are a few ways you can reduce your risk of developing an infected cut.
First, make sure to clean your hand immediately after you’re injured. Use clean water and antibacterial soap. Then, apply antiseptic or antibiotic cream.
Consider the type of dressing you’ll use to cover the wound. Make sure the dressing won’t stick to the cut. You can speak with a pharmacist to find the right type of dressing.
Otherwise, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Visit a doctor if you think there’s a foreign body inside the cut. You should also visit a doctor if you can’t stop the bleeding or if the cut is large.
Your doctor will make sure the wound is properly stitched and cleaned. They’ll help you learn how to recognize the slightest sign of an infection, too.
Hand Injuries are the Pits: Your Guide to Avocado Hand Injuries
Don’t let guacamole and avocado toast impact your overall health. Instead, remain careful when cutting into an avocado. With these tips, you can avoid avocado hand injuries and still enjoy your favorite dip.
Make sure to have the phone number of a trusted hand surgery clinic within reach, just in case.
Want to discuss your hand health with a specialist? We’re here to help.
Contact us with your questions or schedule an appointment today.