hand with knife using the proper method to safetly cut into an avocado

Avocado hand: The danger posed by the trendy fruit

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Avocados aren’t just a favorite for Millennials. The fruit has become increasingly popular in the U.S. in the 21st Century.

Loaded with healthy fats and low in sugar, the fruit has earned a reputation as a healthy alternative to other snacks, but it also brings about a rather unique risk.

Avocados send nearly 9,000 people to the emergency room each year – many of them for hand injuries that come from unsafe cutting techniques, a phenomenon known as “avocado hand.”

“When people go to cut their avocados for guacamole, they hold the avocado with one hand and then they use a paring knife, which is sharp, with the other hand. And as that paring knife hits the pit of the avocado, it slips. Then the tip of the knife plunges into the hand and can cause damage to nerves and to tendons,” said Ramsey Ellis, MD, a fellowship-trained hand surgeon at OSF HealthCare.

“Avocado hand” injuries can be minor cuts, but significant injuries could damage nerves or tendons and may require surgery.

Avoid avocado hand

As avocados ripen, the flesh becomes softer.

Misjudging how hard or soft the inside of an avocado is can lead to injury.

Whether you prefer your avocados firm for slicing or mushy for guacamole or avocado toast, proper cutting technique is the key to avoiding injury.

Instead of holding the avocado in the palm of your hand, place the fruit on a level cutting surface.

You hand should never be under the sharp edge of the knife.

You can also consider buying a specialized tool to make it easier to remove the hard pit from center.

“There are a variety of special tools on the market that are between three and five dollars that allow you to safely cut and then stab the pit of an avocado and remove it, and that can prevent a lot of injury,” Dr. Ellis said.

When accidents happen

If you do slice your hand, apply pressure to the wound immediately to stop the bleeding.

The fastest and safest way to get the care you need is by going to your nearest urgent care or emergency department.

If the injury is severe, call 911.

Last Updated: June 8, 2021

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About Author: Laura Nightengale

Laura Nightengale was a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare. 

She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and worked as a reporter at a daily newspaper for five years before joining OSF HealthCare. 

When she’s not working, Laura loves to travel, read, and spend time with her family, including her sweet and ornery dog.

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