Avocado Hand

avocado hand
avocado hand

Avocado hand is a real medical condition

Avocados are the new ‘it” food. Whether served on a swanky slice of avocado toast, or as a staple in vegan, gluten free or keto diets, it seems avocados can do no wrong. However, doctor’s offices are reporting an increase in hand injuries as a result of incorrectly cutting avocados. In fact, it’s so common the injury has earned its own name–avocado hand.

In today’s post, Dr. Brandon Donnelly will discuss how mishandling avocados is becoming a growing risk for home and professional cooks and what to do if it happens to you.

How can avocados be dangerous?

By design, avocados have leathery skin, soft flesh, and a rock-hard seed in the middle. Slicing these unusual, but delicious, fruit can be surprisingly tricky. If you push the knife in too hard, or at the wrong angle, you can cut your hand.

Anyone from a kitchen newbie to professional kitchen staff is at risk. Avocado hand injuries range from blade grazes to serious gashes that can damage nerves, muscle and tendons.

How to prevent avocado hand

Safety in the kitchen, whether at work or at home, is key. Dr. Donnelly says that of the patients he treats for kitchen wounds, “the main cause is from stabbing the avocado pit with a sharp knife.” There are safe methods of cutting an avocado, according to the Haas Avocado Board. Here are some tips to prevent knife injuries in the kitchen:

  • Use a cutting board or counter. Don’t cut anything while holding it in your hand.
  • Put a dish towel under the cutting board to keep it from slipping.
  • Hold a knife carefully. Watch your hand placement and allow your knuckles to lead when you start cutting.
  • Lay the avocado on its side and hold with one hand on the top of it.
  • Slice lengthwise until you touch the seed, careful to keep your fingers out of the way.
  • Do not stab the pit. Twist and rotate it with a butter knife or scoop it out with a spoon.
  • Consider wearing protective gloves. Gloves offer an extra layer when using sharp knives.
  • Choose the correct knife. The proper knife will make cutting easier and safer.

There are also plastic tools specifically designed to safely remove the pit and cut the avocado from its peel.

“If you’ve treated the injury yourself, but it hasn’t improved within a week, you should come in for an evaluation.”Brandon P. Donnelly, MD

When to seek help for a wound to the hand?

If you have a minor or shallow cut, clean and bandage the cut. However, if the cut is deeper, you should immediately wash the cut gently with soap and water. Apply pressure to the cut in order to stop the bleeding. If the edges of the cut are smooth and stay together, a bandage is likely sufficient to treat it.

Dr. Donnelly says that you should seek medical attention if any of the following conditions are present:

  • you can’t stop bleeding in 10-15 min of compression
  • there is altered sensation near the wound
  • the cut is on a joint
  • you can’t bend or move your fingers
  • the edges of the cut can’t be pushed together
  • the cut is more than a quarter inch deep
  • the knife was dirty or there might be a risk of infection

Dr. Donnelly suggests, ”if you’ve treated the injury yourself, but it hasn’t improved within a week, you should come in to have your hand looked at.”

Treatment options

Treatment options depend on how severe the injury is. If the cut is deep, you may need stitches or surgery to repair any damaged muscles or tendons. Dr. Donnelly offers options for repairing hand injuries including Wide Awake Local Anesthesia No Tourniquet (WALANT) surgery. Hand surgery almost always requires physical therapy, says Dr. Donnelly. But he adds, “the prognosis is good for full recovery and range of motion.”

Don’t ignore hand injuries

If you seriously injure your fingers or hand, you may need to see a hand specialist. Contact Dr. Donnelly’s office to have your injury evaluated, so you can return to safely working in the kitchen again.