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Avoiding Pumpkin Carving Injuries

As pumpkin patches start opening in preparation for Halloween, it is important to remember that carving a traditional jack-o-lantern can be tricky and slippery. The most common accidents associated with pumpkin carving are stab wounds to the fingers and palm. With so many tendons, nerves and arteries in the area, extensive repair may be required if you injure them. This is why it is so important to practice extreme care while performing this traditional activity. Being safe doesn’t mean you can’t have fun!

Pumpkin carving is a fun family activity but it needs to be done with caution, especially if children will be helping. Emergency room physicians and hand surgeons have become accustomed to injuries from pumpkin carving this time of year, but with a little care and preparation, your family can safely enjoy the season.

At Ventura Orthopedics, we know the hazards of pumpkin carving and have compiled some safety tips for avoiding a puncture or laceration.

  • Carve in a clean, dry, well-lit area
  • Children should only draw patterns, scoop out the insides and decorate the pumpkin once it has been carved; adults should handle all carving
  • Provide adult supervision for children at all times
  • Always cut away from yourself in small controlled strokes
  • Use a pumpkin carving kit that includes a small, serrated pumpkin saw that is less likely than a sharper knife to get stuck in the thick pumpkin wedges

If an injury is sustained, elevate the hand above the heart and apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding.

Seek immediate medical treatment if:

  • Continuous pressure does not slow or stop the flow within 15 minutes
  • There is any numbness in the fingers
  • The patient is unable to move the fingers

It may be wise to follow-up with a hand surgeon to make sure everything is okay and nothing needs to be repaired. While most of these types of injuries are relatively minor, many involve nerves and tendons in the fingers that require complex surgery for reconstruction and months of therapy for recovery. In situations with severe lacerations, an orthopedic hand specialist will be brought in to assess the injury and check if a tendon, blood vessel, nerve or combination of the three have been severed and will determine if surgery is required.

An injury can happen very quickly, which is why it is necessary to be cautious and attentive while carving pumpkins. By following these tips and carving with care, the scariest part of the holiday will rightfully be the decorations and costumes!

To learn more about the best options for you or to schedule an appointment with one of our hand specialists, call us at 800-698-1280.

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