Use Caution This Halloween When Carving Pumpkins

by admin October 12, 2010

TOI hand surgeon gives cautionary instructions


One of the most popular holiday traditions, pumpkin carving, is the cause of many hand injuries. The Orthopaedic Institute (TOI) urges everyone to be careful when getting into the spirit of Halloween this year.  

“The most common injuries from activities such as pumpkin carving are puncture wounds in the non-dominant hand,” said Dr. James B. Slattery, Board Certified in Orthopaedic Surgery.  

If you injure your hand while carving a pumpkin, the first step is to run the injury under warm water and clean with soap. After clean, apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. Then, it is important to make sure you do not have a more serious injury that would require immediate medical attention, Dr. Slattery said. He advises looking for the following warning signs:

  • If you experience a loss of feeling, you may have nerve damage.  
  • If you lose any ability to move your fingers, you may have severed a tendon.  
  • After three to five days, if you notice red streaks extending up the arm from the injury, increased swelling and/or a fever, you may have an infection.

To prevent hand injuries, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand suggests the following safety tips:

Clean, Dry and Well-lit – Make sure that your carving area is clean, dry and well-lit. Having moisture on any carving supplies, hands or the work area can lead to slipping and increase the chance of injury.  

Adult Supervision – Many of these injuries involve adolescent patients. To prevent this, one suggestion is to let the kids draw a pattern on the pumpkin and have them be responsible for cleaning out the inside pulp and seeds.  

Sharper is not Better – Carving with a sharper knife may cause it to become wedged in the thicker part of the pumpkin and removing it requires force, which can result in an injury.

Use a Pumpkin Carving Kit – You can find kits made specifically for carving pumpkins. These kits usually include a small, jagged pumpkin saw, which is less likely to get stuck.

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