Kitchen Safety – Puncture Wounds

It is time for confessing… for acknowledging another bout of klutziness, of mindlessly doing things that required my full attention.  I’m not showing you my battle wound, but believe me, it was probably not even half as bad as I will make it sound.

Two months ago, we were over our friends’ house for an afternoon-long Sunday dinner, the kind where the conversations flow easily, the kitchen duties are seamlessly shared between hosts and overeager guests.  Most of the meal was ready – all we needed was to plate some avocado slices.

Gooey, slippery Haas avocado + unfamiliar knife that looked far more benign that what it actually was… you can tell where this story is going.  The knife did not make contact with the pit I was trying to remove.  It found the palm of my left hand.  I looked at the pooling blood in disbelief and looked helplessly at my hostess.

“Band Aid?”
“Coming right up.”

I’m not showing you my hand! Look at the pretty flower instead.

I washed my hand and applied pressure to it with a clean paper towel, trying desperately not to draw attention to myself.  The bandage was applied and I went about for the rest of the evening, numbing the dull ache with a glass of wine or two.  When we got back home, I washed my hand again, braved the sting of an alcohol swab, and stuck a fresh bandage over the wound.  The next morning, I doused the wound in some iodine cleanser and went straight to the infirmary to see the nurse.  It wasn’t the first time I had shown up with a kitchen-related injury.

I removed the bandage tentatively, hoping not to hear an affirmative reply to my question.

“I’m not going to need stitches for this, right?”

No stitches.  After another round of antiseptic, the nurse affixed a butterfly bandage across the wound and sealed it with another adhesive bandage on top.  I sighed in relief and added butterfly closures to my shopping list.  After a couple of days, the wound closed without any issues.

Butterfly bandages are little adhesive strips designed to keep a wound closed to speed up the healing process.  They are usually effective enough to tray puncture wounds less than a quarter inch deep.  Any injuries deeper than that quarter-inch of dermis require a visit to the emergency room for stitches.

So… if you stab your hand accidentally… don’t  panic.  Wash your hands compulsively, assess the wound’s depth, and if it less than a quarter inch deep, sigh in relief because you probably won’t need stitches. Also, buy a box of butterfly bandages and a bottle of iodine antiseptic for your first aid kit.  I hope you never have to use them.

** The contents of this blog post are not medical advice, but rather an anecdotical account of how I managed a kitchen injury.  If you are not sure how to treat a serious kitchen related injury call a medical emergencies hotline or your physician. 

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Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

6 Responses to “Kitchen Safety – Puncture Wounds”

  1. March 11, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    My stomach churns just thinking about it – hope you are well-recovered….

    (I have a very long scar and some permanent nerve damage in my right thumb to constantly remind me about kitchen dangers. Total shudder)

  2. March 11, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Everything was closed and fully healed in about four days, thankfully. It was still scary, precisely because I was worried I had injured more than my skin.

    Yesterday we were over at our friends for our bi-monthly dinners (which actually reminded me to take this post out of my journal and into the blog) and I was stationed by the deep fryer. I was very conscious of what I was doing and of my surroundings and everything went fine. I don’t want to post any more cautionary tales in a LONG time.

  3. March 11, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    I don’t suppose this was easy to write and post but I want to thank you for doing it. I know Cher had a bad accident but my kitchen accidents have been minor, small cuts and burns. But, with everything that we always have on our minds these days, we do get distracted and are “mindless” as you say, about some relatively easy tasks. You’ve handed me a good reminder of a Sunday afternoon gone bad. I will also stock up on butterfly bandages and iodine which I think are not now in my bathroom cabinet. Glad you are healed, Take care.

  4. Norma-Platanos, Mangoes and Me!
    March 13, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    I am so glad it only took a few butterfly stitches. Thank god it dis not hit any nerves. It’s a pity but we as cooks/chefs have these accidents. Cuidate linda y espero que te mejores. Un beo a ti y a el guapo!

  5. Ann
    February 26, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

    I just stabbed my left palm (base of thumb) with my bird’s beak knife 2 nights ago. Trying to dig out an “eye” from a fresh horseradish root (they are really tough) which slipped, knicked some skin off my ring finger before plunging itself deeply into my palm. Wrapped in paper towels and applied pressure for 10 minutes. Paper towels were soaked from both wounds. As I examined the puncture (there was a slight clot that had formed over the injury), it split open and I had an arterial bleed! Yes, it was pulsatile and coming out in big crazy spurts! Not a dribble but ready to cover my cabinets! So, more paper towels. A call to my nurse hotline with my insurance wanted me to take an ambulance to the ER. Arterial bleeds are nothing to mess with, they told me. I didn’t go. It was close to midnight and with pressure on the wound, I knew I wasn’t going to bleed out. So I taped the paper towels on then wrapped my hand in a plastic bag in the event it got too bloody. Went to bed. Got up the next morning and there were red streaks going up my arm. Infection, lymphangitis. Not the first time I’ve experienced this. Called my doctor and they got me in within 1.5 hours. Once there, they sent me to the ER which is located on the same campus. The PA wondered why I didn’t come right after I “stabbed” myself. So, anyway, the wound was irrigated, closed with Steri-Strips and glue and I was prescribed antibiotics. I developed more red streaks after that. It’s amazing how much bruising you get from the artery continuing to bleed under the skin when you have applied pressure. Swelling, too. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much pain. I don’t feel great since I do have an infection. The knife managed to get in about 5/8 inch. There was some of my flesh sitting on the surface of my wound, still attached from deeper within. So, just manage to realize how you’re bleeding, what you’re working on when you injure self, because sometimes it’s more than a “mere flesh wound.” Lymphangitis from infection can develop into bacteremia which can lead to sepsis that is potentially fatal if not treated in a timely matter.

    So what did I do after leaving the ER? Went to the market and picked up fish to smoke overnight, some pork for a boiled dinner and some ground bison because I was craving protein. I also finished cleaning up the horseradish root. Just can’t stay out of the kitchen! Btw, the fish smoked for 14 hours. Delicious! Boiled the pork with sauerkraut, onions, and potatoes. made myself a big bison burger (just for me) and ate it without the bread.

    Have fun everybody but do take some injuries seriously!


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