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Man cutting avocado on cutting board

‘Avocado Hand’ is Real. Here’s How to Prevent It

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While it may sound like a bit of a joking matter, the injury known as “avocado hand” is a very real wound that results from improperly cutting the fruit. And, as the popularity of avocados continues to rise, emergency departments and urgent care centers across the country are seeing an increase in this type of accident, particularly among women aged 23 to 29.

There are three common ways to injure yourself cutting an avocado:

  • When you stab the pit to remove it while holding the avocado in your hand, you may slip and hit your palm.
  • When you hack the pit while holding it between your thumb and index finger, you can miss, cutting your hand between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Once the pit has been removed, the knife slips through the soft interior of the fruit and into your hand or fingers.

These injuries resemble a stab wound and can range in severity, potentially damaging nerves, tendons or muscles that can take weeks to months to heal.

How to cut an avocado

To avoid injury, always use proper tools and techniques when cutting. Never hold the item in your hand while you’re cutting it.

  • Before cutting the avocado, assess how ripe it is. A harder, less-ripe avocado will require more force to cut, thus increasing your risk of injury.
  • Prepare the avocado on a cutting board. Place a towel under the board to secure it on your countertop.
  • Stand the avocado on one side, bracing it with your non-dominant hand. Again, do not hold it as you’re cutting it.
  • Hold the knife as if you’re gripping someone’s hand. Rest your pointer finger on the top part of the handle for guidance. Cut away from yourself, starting at the end of the avocado that’s closest to you and moving away. Gently run the knife around the avocado lengthwise until you hit the seed.
  • Open the avocado into two halves. Use a spoon or avocado utensil to remove the pit instead of a knife. Gently slip the spoon under and around the pit to scoop it out.

What to do if you have an avocado injury

Should you fall victim to avocado hand – or any other cutting injuries – immediately apply direct pressure with your fingers with a clean towel or gauze and elevate the injured area.

You should seek prompt medical attention if you observe any of the following:

  • The bleeding persists
  • The cut is deep or exposes subcutaneous tissue, the deepest layer of your skin
  • The wound is large or gaping and you can’t gently push the edges together
  • There’s a loss of sensation in the area that’s been cut
  • The cut is on or across a joint

In the cases outlined above, have someone drive you to the nearest urgent care for medical attention. If the injury is severe, call 911. Cuts that require medical attention will often require stitches.

Count on convenient urgent care when you need it. Find an Ochsner location near you.

Regardless of the severity of your cut, you should also keep an eye out for signs of infection, which may include:

  • Pain, swelling or redness in the affected area
  • Pus in or around the affected area
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin

You should visit your doctor should your injury exhibit symptoms of infection.

If your cut doesn’t require medical attention, you can take the following steps at home to treat your injury and reduce your risk of infection:

  • Apply pressure to the cut to stop the bleeding. Use something like gauze or a clean towel. It may take a few minutes for the bleeding to subside.
  • Once the bleeding has subsided, wash the cut with cool or lukewarm water and mild soap. This can help prevent infection by removing debris from the wound.
  • Cover the cut with a sterile dressing, like a bandage. Keep the dressing clean and change it as necessary.

Ready to put your avocado-cutting skills to good use? Why not try our delicious and nutritious Chocolate Avocado Pudding or Avocado Cilantro Chicken Salad? While you’re at it, wash it down with this refreshing Avocado Cilantro Mockgarita!

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