Parents pumpkin carving with young daughter

It’s almost that time again. Children are back at school and soon it will be the Halloween season. Every Halloween, it is common for hand surgeons to see both adults and children who come into the office with severe hand and finger injuries as a result of pumpkin carving gone awry.

Tips to prevent pumpkin carving hand injuries

  • Choose a well-lit space. Pumpkin carving projects should only be done in a well-lit, dry area. All the tools used as well as your hands and the cutting surface need to be washed and thoroughly dried.
  • Have an adult supervisor at all times. Even if teenagers are responsible enough to be left on their own, it only takes a second for an injury to occur.
  • Never let children do the carving. Instead give them safer tasks to do such as drawing the pattern on the pumpkin or cleaning out the inside pulp and seeds. And adults should always cut away from themselves in small strokes, making sure any children present are a safe distance away.
  • Sharper is not always better. The knife may become wedged in a thicker part of the pumpkin, requiring force to remove it. When the knife finally comes free there could be injuries should the knife slip.
  • Use a pumpkin carving kit. The small serrated pumpkin saws work better because they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue. They are not sharp enough to cause a deep penetrating cut the way a very sharp knife could.

What to do if your child gets a pumpkin carving injury

The bleeding from minor cuts often stops on its own by applying direct pressure to the area with a clean cloth. If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, immediate attention by a physician may be required.


This material was modified from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand,

October 26, 2017 | by Loryn Peterson MD


Written By: Loryn Peterson MD