Avoid Avocado Hand

Avoid Avocado HandThe avocado has become a staple in the American diet. Its rich creamy texture and distinctive flavor make it a favorite used in many recipes like guacamole, avocado toast and even ice cream! Unfortunately, people can suffer severe injuries to their hands while cutting the avocado, specifically during the pit extraction. Research from Emory University estimates over 50,000 avocado related knife injuries occurred from 1998-2017 in the United States. The true national incidence is probably higher as not all people seek emergency care and try to manage the injury on their own at home. For those people who do seek emergency treatment, injuries can vary in severity. If lucky, the wound may be a superficial laceration or shallow puncture. For the unlucky, injuries can be quite severe and can include muscle, tendon, nerve, artery and even bone requiring surgical intervention.


Avoid Avocado HandThe injury usually occurs as the individual is holding the half of the avocado containing the pit in their non-dominant hand while trying to dislodge the pit with the tip of a knife with their dominant hand. The avocado pit is quite slippery and combined with some force on the knife, the tip of the knife slips on the pit and ends up injuring the hand holding the avocado! There you go... avocado hand! The injury happens quickly!


What can be done to prevent an injury from happening? Make sure your avocado is ripe and ready to eat. Unripe avocados are harder to cut and the pit is much harder to extract. Place the avocado on the counter or on a sturdy cutting board rather than holding it with your bare hand. The simplest thing to do is to use a spoon to scoop out the pit. You are likely going to use a spoon on the half without the pit, so just stick with the spoon for the half with the pit. A spoon will not impale your hand and you won’t require a trip to the emergency room.

If are using a knife to extract the pit, lay the avocado half with the pit on the counter and embed the knife edge into the pit and twist. The pit will dislodge attached to the knife edge and you can tap the knife against the inside of your garbage can to discard the pit and the job is done! Avoid holding the avocado half with your hand. The likelihood of injury is higher this way.

This video is instructional only and no sound


Injuries like this can bleed a lot. Immediately apply pressure to the wound with a towel. Severe pain usually accompanies the injury. Loss of motion or immediate numbness in a part of the hand or finger is also a sign of a significant injury. If these signs are present, visit your local emergency room immediately. Sometimes no bleeding occurs. There can still be a serious injury even if the wound is not bleeding. The presence of severe pain, numbness and or motion loss in a finger can still suggest a deeper structure could have been damaged and emergency evaluation is still recommended.

Treatment in the ER will likely involve an x-ray. Sometimes the tip of the knife can break off in the hand and there can be an associated bone injury. The hand surgeon on call may be consulted if bleeding cannot be controlled or a suspected deeper structure may be injured. Tetanus status will likely be assessed and a booster may be administered. Injuries can vary in severity. Some injuries may be superficial and just require a Band-Aid. Others can be significant like the patient I treated where the knife went all the way thru the hand!


Margaret Napolitano MDEnjoy your avocados safely! I hope this has been useful and will help to prevent an avocado hand injury! Kleinert Kutz Hand Surgeons are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Dr. Margaret Napolitano is a senior partner with a 20-year history at Kleinert Kutz and Associates and is based in our Lexington satellite office. She is board certified in General, Plastic and Hand surgery. She completed her Hand Surgery fellowship at the Christine M. Kleinert Hand Surgery Fellowship in Louisville, KY in 2001.

Kleinert Kutz hand specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call (502) 561-4263 for hand emergencies or to schedule an appointment.


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