Today, we’re going to talk about an un-glamorous situation that almost every jewelry lover has encountered: what to do when a ring is stuck on your finger.
Ideally, we’d all be perfect, sweat-free unicorn humans who never get overheated or swollen anywhere, but that’s just not real life.
The next time you get that sinking feeling that your finger bling just isn’t going to come off, don’t worry. Here are some tips and tricks you can try at home, and what to expect if you do end up needing to have the ring cut off of you.
What to do when a ring is stuck on your finger.
First things first: don’t panic.
If a ring is stuck on your finger and you start yanking on it, all you’re going to do is irritate your finger and make things worse. Try wiggling and twisting the ring instead. Pull firmly, but don’t force it. Relax your hand, rather than holding it rigid.
If none of that helps, then stop. You need to try to reduce the swelling of your finger before you try again. When a ring is stuck on my finger, the first thing I do is run cold water over my hand for 10-30 seconds. After that, I’m usually able to wiggle the ring off without much trouble.
If the ring is still stuck on your finger, you can try some other things to reduce swelling: like holding your hand up above your heart, to encourage excess blood/fluid to drain, or putting ice on your finger for 5-10 minutes at a time.
There are also various slippery substances you can try when a ring is stuck on your finger. Soap can make the skin of your finger slippery, as can lotion or petroleum jelly. You can also try Windex; Windex isn’t just slippery, it also apparently contains some properties that will help shrink your finger slightly. (Although Windex isn’t great for delicate pieces of jewelry).
Another option: waiting. Let some time pass and see if whatever your body is doing to keep your ring stuck on your finger will resolve itself – especially if has an immediate environmental cause, like humidity or exertion.
Disclaimer: Please note that all of this advice is for non-urgent situations. If your ring is stuck because your finger or hand is injured, or if your finger/hand starts to do anything worrisome, like tingle or turn odd colors, stop reading this and go to a doctor.
If the ring is still stuck on your finger.
If the basic swelling-reduction methods have failed, there are a few more home remedies you can try.
The dental floss/string method:
The internet’s favorite suggestion for removing a ring that’s stuck on your finger involves dental floss or string. Even Harvard recommends it. I haven’t tried this, but I can how it could work if done correctly. Here are some video tutorials:
- From The Daily Mail.
- From The Today Show.
- Popular YouTube tutorial.
- Alternate method using an elastic band.
The sports tape/duct tape trick:
This method basically involves wrapping the upper part of your finger – the part that the ring needs to slide over – in tape in order to encourage the swelling to reduce/relocate for long enough to fit the ring over it. Here are two articles that describe how to do it.
The plastic wrap method:
Here’s one YouTuber who successfully removed a ring from her swollen finger by using plastic wrap and butter. I like this method, since it seems to have less risk of further cutting off blood flow.
Please note: I strongly recommend against trying any of these home remedies on a finger that’s actually injured, since it sounds like they’ll cause additional stress to the skin and digit.
If the ring is STILL stuck on your finger.
It’s time for drastic methods.
When I was 12 or so, I slammed my hand in a locker door. Being the quiet, awkward child that I was, I didn’t tell anyone at school – just waited until I got home and showed my mom how my finger was turning white as it swelled around the cheap ring I was wearing.
My mom dragged me to the closest mall jewelry store, a Kay Jewelers or equivalent, and demanded that they cut the ring off of me.
The jeweler used wire cutters. He turned them sideways and worked one of the blades between my ring and swollen finger, sliding it in sideways and moving slowly and carefully. This was uncomfortable, but bearable.
Once the wire cutter’s blade was in place, the jeweler very abruptly rotated the tool so that the ring’s shank was between the sharp edges of the blades (this part hurt – twisting the wire cutters took up much more of the rapidly vanishing space between my ring and finger). He quickly clipped the ring with the wire cutters, and the band of the ring popped open, immediately relieving the pressure on my finger. He then widened the opening in the back of the ring and was able to slide it off my finger.
Pro tip: if you ever injure your hand, take off your rings immediately. If I had removed my ring right after slamming my hand in the locker, before my fingers had a chance to swell, I would have had a much easier day.
What to know if you need to have a ring cut off your finger.
So, you have to get your ring cut off your finger. That sucks. But don’t give up on the ring yet! It’s likely it’ll be able to so be completely restored that you’ll never be able to tell it was sliced – especially if the ring’s band is plain, free of stones or engraving.
This is why you want to go to a skilled jeweler to have a ring cut off your finger, if possible: they’ll be able to do the cutting in a way that makes the ring easier to repair.
It’s important to mention that cutting a ring off of somebody’s finger isn’t something that every jeweler is willing to do. Some jewelers feel that the process is too much of a liability, especially in tricky cases. If you’re going to a jeweler to have your ring cut off, definitely call first to make sure they’re going to be able to help you.
Which brings me to my final piece of advice:
Don’t be dumb.
Rings are great, but they can be replaced. Fingers can’t.
If your finger starts turning weird colors or losing feeling or anything else similarly alarming, drop everything and get yourself to a doctor. You can buy a new ring later to celebrate being smart enough to take good care of yourself.
GIFs via GIPHY.