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Removing a Ring From a Finger or Toe

Removing a ring from a finger or toe
Removing a ring from a finger or toe

Swelling of the fingers or toes is common after an injury to the hand, arm, foot, or leg. If you did not remove a ring before swelling began, try one of the following methods. These methods can be used for rings on fingers or toes. If these methods fail, see your doctor to have the ring removed.

First method

  • Don't try to force the finger or toe out of the ring. This may make the area swell more, making the ring harder to remove.
  • Relax your hand or foot. Relaxation alone will sometimes enable you to free the ring.
  • Elevate your affected hand or foot, if possible.
  • Apply ice around the affected area. This may reduce swelling and allow the ring to be removed.
  • If ice doesn't work, dribble soapy water or cooking oil on the area. Turn the ring as if unscrewing it rather than pulling it off directly.

Second method (string method)

  • Start wrapping a slick piece of string, such as dental floss, from the fingertip side of the knuckle toward the ring.
  • Wrap the string snugly. Each wrap should be right next to the one before. Wrap to the edge of the ring.
  • Put the end of the string under the ring. Grasp the end under the ring and start unwrapping it. Push the ring along ahead of the unwrapping string as you unwrap it to remove the ring.

Illustration A (may also be tried on a toe)

Illustration B (may also be tried on a toe)

Current as of: February 26, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine

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Here are a few additional resources as well:

World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control

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