Rings have been popular for hundreds of years. They adorn the fingers (and toes) and make them look more delicate, represent relationships or memberships, and even act as a mark of status.
Most people wear a ring at some point or other, whether for fashion, a class ring or a sign of marriage and commitment.
Usually, this is without incident, but on occasion, rings can cause allergic reactions or get stuck.
Sometimes, a little wiggling and twisting do the trick, but other times it can be quite painful, and even interfere with blood circulation in that finger.
The worst-case scenario is having to seek medical care.
Luckily, cases of a ring stuck on a finger can be resolved at home. Before you begin to panic, try out these ideas.
If none of them work, get immediate medical help.
Why does a ring get stuck?
A ring can get stuck on a finger for quite a few reasons. The most popular reason is a ring that is too small or tight.
It will require a bit of force to get it on, but taking it off is the real hurdle.
When this happens, the finger begins to swell, which makes taking it off difficult.
A finger can also become swollen when the ring fits perfectly but is made of certain materials like nickel and cobalt that don’t agree with everyone’s skin.
Rings that used to fit in the past can get stuck due to weight gain and pregnancy, or any medical condition which causes the hands and legs to swell.
Warm weather can also be a contributing factor, as blood vessels expand, causing the skin around them to expand.
Is this a medical emergency?
Pay close attention to how your finger reacts to the stuck ring, as it may be a medical emergency.
If your finger becomes red, or worse, blue or purple, it’s time to seek immediate medical help.
This is a sign that your finger is beginning to lose blow flow. The same is true if the finger starts to become numb.
If you aren’t sure, perform a Capillary Refill Test . This measures the amount of blood flow in the tissue.
These are the steps:
- Hold the afflicted finger higher than heart-level
- Press the tip of the finger until it turns white
- Release your finger, paying close attention to the amount of time it takes for the color to return, i.e the capillary refill time.
- Under normal circumstances, the capillary refill time is less than 2 seconds. If it takes longer than that to return, consult an emergency physician right away.
Now, how do I get this ring off?
If you pass the capillary test and don’t think you need the help of an emergency physician, try these 8 techniques and see if they work for you:
1. Elevate your hand and rest
If your finger is swollen due to an injury or medical condition, you can reduce the swelling naturally by raising the affiliated hand to heart level and allowing it to rest.
This will give the blood vessels time to revert to their relaxed state, and reduce fluid buildup.
After about 10 minutes, you should be able to slip it off.
2. Lube it up
If the ring is tight, a dry finger makes it harder to remove. So, lube it up with Windex, petroleum jelly, lotion or conditioner, for example.
Back in the day, housewives used some butter and cooking oil, and that did the trick.
This strategy helps to reduce friction between the ring and your finger and makes the process less painful.
3. Ice water soak
If swelling is the issue, this is another way you can reduce it and get the ring off.
You only need to dip your hand in ice water for about 5 to 10 minutes to see an improvement.
This might be a bit uncomfortable, but it’s a much easier way to get the ring off without damage to your finger.
If you don’t want to dip your entire hand into a bowl of ice water, you can always use an ice pack or a frozen bag of peas.
This will work just as well if you focus the freezing action on the afflicted finger.
This helps the blood vessels to constrict and reduces the amount of fluid in the finger.
If you notice your hand getting numb, and you aren’t seeing much change, give your finger a break, then try again in 15 or 20 minutes.
You can combine this method with elevating your hand for best results. If you don’t see any changes, skip this method, as you wouldn’t want to give yourself nerve damage or frostbite!
4. Twist and pull the ring
It’s important to keep calm. Your first instinct will be to twist and pull, but if you’re too aggressive, you’ll end up making it worse.
So, gently twist the ring, while pulling at the same time. This works best if the finger is not excessively swollen.
It will be a bit uncomfortable, but shouldn’t have you screaming in pain.
If you feel a sharp pain, stop and get medical assistance. It might be an indication that something else is wrong.
5. Use dental floss or some ribbon
If you have some dental floss or thin ribbon handy, cut a long piece for this next technique.
This strategy will help to compress the swelling so you can slip the ring of your finger.
- Slide one end of the string or ribbon underneath the ring using a tweezer or toothpick. The length of the string or ribbon should be facing your fingernail.
- Begin to wrap or thread it around your finger, underneath the ring. The wrap should be tight and smooth.
- Stop wrapping once you get to the knuckle, then take the opposite end of the string or ribbon (the piece you placed underneath the ring), and begin to unwrap in the same direction as before (towards your fingernail).
- As you unwrap the string or ribbon, the ring should begin to move over the string with ease.
This method can be very uncomfortable to execute, so if you can, get someone to help you with it.
WARNING: If the ring does not move over the string, and will not budge, unwrap the string or ribbon immediately to avoid further complications.
6. Try some plastic wrap
If you can’t find a string or ribbon for the technique above, use some plastic wrap to get the job done.
The steps are the same, and you can add a bit of lubricant once wrapped to help the ring slide off your finger.
Alternative materials include nylon cloth and elastic.
7. Use a surgical glove
If the finger is not too swollen, doctors sometimes use this method to slip the ring off manually.
You can lubricate the finger or glove beforehand to make it more effective.
- Begin by cutting the correspondent finger off the glove. Cut the top off to form a cylindrical tube.
- Slide the section of the surgical glove underneath the ring using a tweezer or other instrument.
- Turn the piece of glove below the ring inside out, and pull it outwards (towards the fingernails) gently.
This method is better than the string or plastic method since it can be used on broken, inflamed, wounded or fractured fingers without causing more problems.
8. Have the ring cut off
If none of the above methods work and the ring just won’t budge, then your only option is to have the ring surgically removed, or cut off.
Do not attempt to cut the ring at home yourself, no matter how tempting it can be to just use some pliers.
You can seriously injure your finger and do more harm than good.
A professional jeweler or medical professional will use a ring cutter or other appropriate tool.
Many people prefer to go to a jeweler than the ER because it’s cheaper. A jeweler also has extensive knowledge about rings and will know exactly where to cut (the weak points) to get the ring off easily.
The most important thing to remember is to remain calm. Panicking will do you no good.
However, prevention is always better than cure, and this is a preventable incident.
Avoid a stuck ring by wearing the right size for your finger, and removing it as soon as you notice your finger swelling.
Do not wear a fashion ring to bed or for extended periods without removing it to give your finger a break.
If you suffer any injury to your ring finger, try to remove the ring right away or have it cut off.
If you happen to have a tight ring, you don’t have to toss it. Instead, you can have it resized.
Most rings can be resized up without a problem, especially plain wedding bands made of silver or gold.
Certain materials like stainless steel and platinum are tougher, and can be virtually impossible to resize.
Your jeweler will inform you of the risks of resizing since it can cause discoloration of stones or ruin the design of the ring.
Note carefully that this post does not constitute medical advice. If you are uncertain or suspect something is wrong, consult a medical professional.
What happens if a ring is stuck on your finger?
If a ring gets stuck on your finger, the first thing you should try is twisting and pulling it.
If your finger is swollen, elevate it or ice it to reduce swelling. You may also lubricate the finger to get it off.
Other methods include using dental floss, plastic wrap or a surgical glove to pull it off.
If those methods fail, or if you notice a change in color or numbness, seek medical help right away or have the ring cut off by a jeweler.
Can you cut a ring off with wire cutters?
Technically, yes, but it is too dangerous to be recommended. There are tons of incidents each year as proof that no one should ever try to remove a stuck ring with wire cutters at home.
Why does Windex help remove rings?
Windex works as a lubricant to reduce the amount of friction between the ring and the finger.
It does the job without excessive buildup, and after 20 seconds of marinating, it should allow the ring to be twisted off easily.