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It’s Halloween time again! And you know what that means. Children (and some adults) dressing up as the latest super hero, scary ghost or fairy-tale princess, collecting and eating lots and lots of candy, and the all-important carving their pumpkin. It just wouldn’t be a festive Halloween without these gourd-like fruits cut into ghoulish faces or fanciful designs, and lit by candles. But it won’t be a fun occasion either if you don’t take the proper precautions to avoid injuries while carving your jack-o’-lantern.


“Because pumpkins are both slippery and tough, cuts can easily occur if the knife gets stuck in the rind, force is used to dislodge it, and the supporting hand accidently gets sliced in the process,” says Dr. Lisa Sotir, Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine for MetroWest Medical Center. “Despite best intentions, wounds to the fingers or palm could cause damage to arteries, nerves or tendons, and require anything from a bandage if they are shallow, to stitches, or even surgery if a tendon is cut.”


Dr. Sotir offers the following tips to avoid hand injuries while still creating a jack-o’-lantern worthy of display on your front porch.

  • Don’t let children carve pumpkins. Instead, they can draw a pattern on the pumpkin, or help scoop out all the seeds and pulp. Make sure an adult does all the actual cutting.
  • Use the right tools. Don’t use your good kitchen knives because they are more likely to get stuck in the thick rind. Opt for pumpkin-carving tools that are specially designed to saw through rinds, poke holes, and scoop out the insides.
  • Don’t rush and be sure to carve your pumpkin in a well-lit area so you can see what you are doing. Carve away from your body and keep your hands dry so you don’t slip while holding a knife or other cutting tool.


“If you do cut your finger or hand, apply direct pressure to the injury and keep it elevated above your heart,” says Dr. Sotir. “Bleeding should slow down or stop in about 15 minutes. If it doesn’t, you may need to seek emergency medical care.”