Avocado hand is a phenomenon that has been brought to attention in the media by Dr. Simon Eccles, former president of the surgery section of the Royal Society of Medicine. Due to the rising popularity of avocado, more and more people are accidentally cutting their hands when slicing open the fruit and struggling to remove the stone.
What is avocado hand?
Avocado hand occurs when you’re using a knife to cut an avocado, and it slips through the soft fruit into your hand or fingers. Typically, after cutting the avocado in half, the consumer holds the avocado in their non-dominant hand while using a knife to remove the pit with their dominant hand. Then, the consumer proceeds to remove the peel and slice the fruit.
The tragedy usually begins with the fact that avocado consumers expect the pit to be hard and difficult to remove because they don’t grasp how ripe the avocado they just bought is. This expectation leads the consumer to apply a great amount of strength when removing the pit with the knife. This leads, more often than desired, to avocado hand. Avocados may be delicious, healthy, and right about beautiful, but they surely can be a handful sometimes.
Knowing your avocado is extremely important. Check out our guide on how to pick an avocado and be sure to learn how to tell when an avocado is ripe or not. It might just save your hand from an ugly stab!
More often than not, the moment that precedes the avocado hand injury is a lonely crossroad: the scenario at your right is when the stone inside the avocado is softer than people expect it to be, and they slice right through to the hand holding the fruit due to the excessive amount of strength applied; the scenario at your left is when the knife slips off of the stone while the consumer is trying to remove it, thus slicing their hand instead of the fruit.
Avocado hand injuries are much worse than just small cuts. Many people have had to deal with serious nerve and tendon injuries that require surgery and can even leave you without partial or full use of your hand.
For this reason, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons is even calling for safety labels on the fruit, advising people on how to cut them safely.
How bad can avocado hand get?
Avocado hand can range in severity from mild to severe.
Mild cases are generally just shallow cuts on the hand or fingers and can be treated at home. The worst thing that can happen to you, as a victim of avocado hand, is having to go to the emergency room to get a few stitches.
It isn’t always easy to tell if you need stitches, but two key questions can help you if you ever find yourself uncertain if you should seek medical help: “how big is it?” and “how bad is it bleeding?” If your injury looks very deep, opens so wide you can’t get the edges together with just a little pressure, and keeps bleeding through a bandage for more than 5 minutes, you should most likely pay a visit to the emergency room to get stitches.
The severe cases are on a whole different level, since they involve muscle, nerve, or tendons damage, meaning you may have to undergo surgery. Here, there are two groups of symptoms for which you must be on the lookout. If you feel intense pain, tenderness, and inability to bend the joints of your finger, you may have tendon damage. If you feel intense pain and numbness in your fingers, you might have a damaged nerve.
If your injury doesn’t require emergency treatment, you should still watch out for signs of infection such as pain, swelling, pus in or around the affected area, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin. If any of these signs show, you must visit your doctor.
How to prevent avocado hand
So, how should you cut and destone an avocado safely?
There are a few procedures you can follow in order to avoid a nasty wound on your hand. As we have mentioned above, you have to know your avocado and be aware of how ripe it is. Softer avocados require less strength. If you fail to recognize how ripe the fruit is, your knife might slip or go through the tender flesh.
Placing the fruit flat on a surface is also a good way to avoid a disaster. Then, with one hand on top, make gentle, controlled incisions around the stone.
Instead of the knife, you can also try to remove the pit with a spoon. You just have to gently slip the spoon under and around the pit to scoop it out. Spoiler alert: it sometimes requires patience.
Be careful how you handle the knife. Hold it firmly. Rest your pointer finger on the top part of the knife handle for guidance. Start cutting the avocado at the end of the fruit that’s closest to you and move away.
Despite these procedures, the best way to prevent avocado hand is, frankly, to keep the knife away from your hand. Here’s how: OXO’s Good Grips Avocado Slicer. This tool is a great option if you now find yourself terrified of putting a knife through your hand. It’s an all-in-one tool that splits, pits, and slices avocados.
There’s a blade that splits the two halves, a stainless steel pitter that removes the pit with just one quick twist, and a slicer that lifts the fruit from its skin in seven perfect pieces (making it an amazing utensil to prepare an aesthetic avocado dish). The grip is made with a soft material, which makes it easy and comfortable to handle. To top it off, it’s dishwasher safe!
People who reviewed the product, with their beautiful, intact hands, seem to enjoy it: this avocado slicer scored 4.6 out of 5.