In cases of injured fingers, seek medical help immediately. The binding of a ring around the finger may act as a tourniquet and cause permanent damage to the finger if not removed promptly.
If there is no injury, a ring may be removed at home. Do not attempt removal if the finger is blue or purple, or if there is no feeling in the finger.
- Stay Safe. If you are not the victim, practice universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if available.
- Raise the affected hand high above the heart. Keeping the hand high will help blood drain from the tissues and bring down any swelling. Keep the hand elevated until the ring is removed.
- Cool the finger with an ice pack for 20 minutes or direct ice for 10 minutes. An easy way to cool the finger is to dip it in ice and water. Remember to keep the hand elevated while cooling the finger.
- Once the finger is cold and has been elevated for at least 15 to 20 minutes, use a lubricant to make the finger slippery. Baby or mineral oil works well. Soap can sometimes irritate the skin and may dry it out, but it works in a pinch.
- Compress the finger in front of the ring before trying to move the ring. Work the ring slowly; moving too fast will result in more swelling. Don't forget to keep the hand elevated during this process.
- It may be necessary to cool the finger with ice multiple times during this process. If direct ice or iced water is used, remember not to expose the finger for more than 10 minutes. If an ice pack is used, expose it no more than 20 minutes. Always keep ice off the finger for at least 20 minutes before cooling again.
- If the finger becomes swollen and discolored, or if several attempts to move the ring do not work, seek medical attention. Fire departments, hospital emergency departments, and most ambulances are equipped with cutters to remove stuck rings.
- Remember: Keep the affected hand elevated throughout the procedure.