Pumpkin Carving without the Cuts

carved pumpkinIn previous years we’ve blogged about the health benefits of pumpkins. This year, as Halloween approaches we thought we should provide a little fair balance and warn our readers of the inherent dangers of these autumnal fruits.

While pumpkins aren’t exactly going to jump out of the patch and spook or attack you, carving them can lead to significant injuries.

Every Halloween season we see four or five patients — both adults and children — who come into our office with severe injuries to their hands and fingers,” says hand surgeon Jeffrey Wint, MD. “Treatment can often run three to four months, from the time of surgery through rehabilitation.”

pumpkin carving injuryTo prevent hand injuries, we bring you the following safety tips:

Carve in a Clean, Dry, Well-lit Area
Wash and dry all of the tools that you will use to carve the pumpkin, including the knife, cutting surface, and your hands. Any moisture on your tools, hands, or table can cause slipping that can lead to injuries.

Leave the Carving to Adults
Never let children do the carving. Instead, let kids draw a pattern on the pumpkin and have them be responsible for cleaning out the pulp and seeds. And it’s not just young children who need to be supervised.
All too often, we see adolescent patients with injuries because adults feel the kids are responsible enough to be left on their own,” says Wint. “Even though the carving may be going great, it only takes a second for an injury to occur.”

Sharper is Not Better
When you do start cutting, cut away from yourself and cut in small, controlled strokes. A sharper knife is not necessarily better, because it often becomes wedged in the thicker part of the pumpkin, requiring force to remove it. Injury can occur if your hand is in the wrong place when the knife finally dislodges from the thick skin of the pumpkin. Injuries are also sustained when the knife slips and comes out the other side of the pumpkin where your hand may be holding it steady.

pumpkin-carving-toolsUse a Pumpkin Carving Kit
Special pumpkin carving kits are widely available. These usually include small serrated pumpkin saws that work better because they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue. And if they do get jammed and then wedged free, they are not sharp enough to cause a deep, penetrating cut.

Should you cut your finger or hand, here’s what to do. If the cut is minor, apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth and bleeding should stop spontaneously. If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, an emergency room visit may be required.

Better still, follow the above advice. Don’t let your Jack-o’Lantern jinx you and hold off on the Halloween Hand Injuries.

pumpkin face