Summer fruit injuries are real. Here's how to prevent and treat avocado hand, watermelon wounds and lime burns.

A lot of hand injuries occur when people use a knife to remove the avocado pit.
A lot of hand injuries occur when people use a knife to remove the avocado pit. (Getty Images)

There’s nothing like the refreshing taste of fresh summer fruits. Along with being packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, colorful seasonal produce can add a touch of sweetness — or some tartness — to your favorite drinks, snacks, salads and desserts. Even though consuming “nature’s candy” can be a healthy and delicious experience, handling certain fruits can be downright hazardous. Here, three medical professionals explain how to stay safe while slicing, squeezing or removing pits from three summertime-favorite fruits, along with how to treat common fruit-related injuries.

Why it happens: Whether you’re a guacamole lover or a fan of avocado toast, avocados are rising in popularity. A recent report from the International Fresh Produce Association stated that this large-pitted food was the second-highest in-demand fruit this year, gaining more than $43.1 million in growth sales.

However, avocado accidents are also on the rise. A review published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that avocado-related knife injuries have become an “epidemic” in the world of hand injuries. Of those slicing themselves to the point where they needed medical treatment, more than 80% were women, and the majority of the incidents occurred between the months of April and July.

“Avocado hand injuries happen when people attempt to cut or pit avocados and accidentally cut themselves, often severely, on their hands or fingers,” Dr. John Whyte, internist and chief medical officer of WebMD, tells Yahoo Life.

How to treat it: If you cut yourself, Dr. Louis Profeta, an emergency physician at St. Vincent Hospital of Indianapolis and clinical instructor of emergency medicine at Indiana University and Marian University schools of medicine, tells Yahoo Life that direct pressure is key, along with keeping the injured hand elevated. “For minor cuts, clean the wound with soap and water, then apply an antiseptic and bandage it,” advises Whyte. He says to seek medical attention for deep cuts with excessive bleeding — meaning bleeding that will not stop — or if you are having difficulty moving your fingers.

How to avoid an injury: “Avocado hand can be best prevented by placing the avocado on a cutting board instead of cutting it on your hand,” Dr. Sam Torbati, co-chair and medical director of the Cedars-Sinai emergency department, tells Yahoo Life. “We see a lot of injuries when people use knives to remove the pit — a definite no-no. Using a blunt tool like a spoon is much safer.”

Profeta agrees. “Do not attempt to remove an avocado pit with the tip of a sharp knife,” he tells Yahoo Life. “It'll roll off the seed and you will drive the point right into your palm — and those deep palmer puncture wounds are much more prone to infection.”

Also, use some common sense, says Profeta. “Pay attention and do not engage in other tasks — like talking on the phone — when you are cutting a fruit with a knife," he says. "And if you’re not comfortable with cutting an avocado, just don’t do it.”

Why it happens: Watermelon wounds tend to occur while using a carving knife to cut through the thick watermelon rinds, leading to accidental cuts, says Whyte. Adds Profeta: “Because of their bulky size, watermelons often slip on the surface.”

How to treat it: Similar to avocado hand, treatment for a watermelon wound begins with applying pressure to the area, followed by cleaning the wound, applying an antiseptic and bandaging, says Whyte.

“Watermelon wounds are far less frequent than avocado hand, but still a concern as deep cuts require sutures, also known as stitches,” says Torbati. “If the cut is more than a centimeter deep or won’t stop bleeding after 10 minutes of continued application of pressure, there is a good chance it will benefit from sutures.”

How to avoid an injury: Prevention begins with placing the watermelon on a cutting board to reduce the risk of slippage. All three physicians suggest using a long serrated knife to carve the large fruit, while Torbati recommends ensuring that all of the components — the watermelon, knife and cutting board — are dry.

Cut the watermelon in half vertically from one end to the other, then slice each half vertically, recommends Ochsner Health, a not-for-profit organization. Whyte agrees: “I always suggest cutting the watermelon into smaller, more manageable pieces before slicing further.”

Why it happens: While Jimmy Buffet sang about nibbling on sponge cake and watching the sun bake in his classic hit song “Margaritaville,” he may not have realized that a lime chemical burn — which is also referred to as a margarita burn — can be a serious medical condition. “Phytophotodermatitis occurs when lime juice on the skin is exposed to sunlight, causing a chemical reaction that leads to burns,” explains Whyte. “It’s a real thing!”

Symptoms may include an itchy rash, sunburn or blisters in areas where the lime or other citrus fruits like lemon made contact with the skin.

How to treat it: If even a few squirts of lime juice splash on your skin while outdoors on a warm, sunny day, get yourself to a sink ASAP. “Make sure to wash it off completely with cold water and soap,” says Profeta. And time is of the essence. “The longer the citrus stays on your skin and absorbs UVA rays, the more the active chemical absorbs into the skin and causes harm,” warns Torbati. “Sensitive areas are the face, hands, feet and groin.”

Once the skin has been washed, Whyte recommends applying aloe vera or an over-the-counter burn cream, followed by keeping the area covered. An article on lime-induced phytophotodermatitis published in the journal Oxford Medical Case Reports recommends that people use cold compresses and topical steroids to manage and minimize pain associated with minor burns.

“Deeper burns requiring medical attention are those with blistering, especially if the surface area involved is large,” adds Torbati. “Second- and third-degree chemical burn injuries require similar treatment to those of regular burns.”

How to avoid an injury: If possible, avoid juicing limes and lemons into your cocktails and salads outside during the daylight hours, and if you get any citrus juice on your skin, wash it off with soap and water immediately. Also keep in mind that knowledge is power, says Torbati. “Know there is a risk of margarita burn anytime someone is thinking of cutting or juicing citrus fruits while in the hot sun.”