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How to Get a Ring Off a Swollen Finger

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Person trying to pull off a ring stuck on their finger

When a ring gets stuck on your finger, it can be a frustrating—and even quite painful—experience. Sometimes, no matter how much you twist and tug, it just won’t budge. To add insult to injury, your suddenly swollen finger might start to resemble a plump, well-cooked sausage. Fortunately, there are several proven methods for removing a ring from a swollen finger. Keep reading to find out why this happens in the first place and to determine a solution that works for you.

 

Why Do Rings Get Stuck?  

There are several reasons why a ring may become stuck on a finger.

  • The ring itself is too small: You could be wearing a ring that is too small for your finger; in which case you need to get it resized (more on this later).  
  • You never take it off. If you wear your ring 24/7, you may never have noticed that the girth of your finger has enlarged over time (yes, really).  
  • Arthritis: If you suffer from an inflammatory type of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or gout, your knuckles may become swollen, stiff, and deformed which can definitely restrict your ability to wear rings comfortably. 
  • High salt intake: If you consume a diet high in salt, your body will retain water, causing your fingers to swell. If it’s just a night out at your favorite restaurant, sit tight—your finger should return to its normal state in a day or so.  
  • Heat: Hot temperatures and humidity can cause blood vessels to expand, leading to swelling in your fingers.  
  • Pregnancy: Are you expecting? It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to experience swelling in their extremities, particularly in the third trimester. This is due to increased levels of hormones and fluid in the body. So, if you’ve got a bun in the oven, it may be best to remove any rings until after the baby is born. 
  • Injury or infection: If you’ve suffered a recent injury to your hand or finger or have an infection, it can cause swelling to the point that it makes the fit of your ring feel uncomfortably tight.

 

How to Remove a Ring That’s Stuck On Your Finger

Help is on the way! Try the following tips for loosening your ring so that you can take it off– all within the comfort of your own home.

 

Reduce Swelling Using the RICE Method 

Before you attempt to remove your ring, try reducing the swelling in your finger first. You can do this by using the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method – a common first-aid technique used to treat strains and sprains but can be adapted to the removal of rings that just won’t budge.  

  1. Place a bag of ice on top of your finger (another option is to submerge your finger in a cup of ice water). The cold will cause blood vessels to constrict, decreasing the swelling. 
  2. Raise your hand over your head with the ice bag still on top (or your finger still submerged in water) for 5-10 minutes. Elevating your hand and arm should help minimize swelling.  
  3. Remove the ice from your finger (or your finger from the ice water). With your other hand, compress your finger above the stuck ring. 
  4. Slowly and gently ease the ring off your finger. Consider adding some lubrication to aid the process (some options are noted below).
  5. You might have to repeat these steps a few times, allowing a 5- to 10-minute break between attempts.

 

Windex Method 

If you’ve ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll recall that Gus, the family patriarch, believed that every ailment in life could be cured with Windex. In fact, this is a popular method endorsed by many jewelers. So consider trying it out: When you spritz a little Windex on your ring, the surfactants in the ammonia-based cleanser help to reduce the surface tension between the ring and the skin, making it easier for you to wiggle the ring off.  

 

Slippery Lubricants

Wet your hands with cold water and apply a generous amount of mild dish soap around your ring finger. You can also try baby oil, coconut oil, petroleum jelly, or butter. Now try and remove the ring by twisting it around and pulling your finger away from the ring. Often, this is enough to dislodge it. 

 

String Method 

  1. Cut a long piece of dental floss, ribbon, or string. 
  2. Slide one end of the string underneath your ring (use a needle, toothpick, or tweezers to pull the string through if needed) towards your hand.  
  3. Wrap the long end of the string around your finger several times until it reaches your knuckle. 
  4. Take the short end of the string and unravel it slowly. As you go along, the ring should (hopefully) loosen and allow for removal.  
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 if necessary. 

 

When To Seek Medical Attention  

If the ring-removal hacks above haven’t worked, it might be time to visit a jewelry store—or even an emergency room. These places are likely to have specialty tools and instruments that can help remove your ring safely and potentially save it to be resized later. 

Red-Flag Symptoms  

It’s best to have a medical professional assess your situation if... 

  • You have severe pain, swelling, numbness, or tingling in your finger or hand. 
  • Your finger or hand is turning blue or purple.  
  • You suffered a recent injury or trauma to your hand or have a cut or wound on your finger (this can lead to an infection).

Prolonged swelling may cause nerve damage, and the stuck ring may cut off your blood supply. So, it’s best to get evaluated sooner than later!

 

How to Prevent Rings from Getting Stuck 

Avoid a stuck ring in the future by taking a few simple precautions: 

  • Have your ring size properly measured by a professional jeweler. 
  • Remove your ring before bed every night, so you can monitor changes in your finger size.  
  • Remove your ring in situations where your hands might swell, such as exercising, swimming, or spending the day in the hot sun. 
  • If you think your ring is stuck due to swelling caused by heat and humidity or water retention, raise your hand above your head and try to loosen it from its perch up there.
  • Manage your weight and any medical conditions as best you can. Keep your hands active! 

 

When You Should Have Your Ring Resized 

Having a ring that fits properly is a must. Your ring should be able to spin on your finger with a little effort. It should be able to move in both a clockwise and a counterclockwise direction. If it’s too tight or forming a “muffin top” (bulge of skin above or below the ring), the ring is probably too small. In that case, head to a jeweler you trust to get it resized. They will use specialized tools like a metal finger-gauge ring-sizer or a mandrel—to measure your ring size accurately.

Once you successfully remove your ring, the next step is to protect your investment by obtaining personal jewelry insurance through Jewelers Mutual. It’s an affordable option that covers loss, damage, and disappearances. You can check your rate by clicking the button below. 

 

 

 

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About Jewelers Mutual Group

Jewelers Mutual was founded in 1913 by a group of Wisconsin jewelers to meet their unique insurance needs. Later, consumers began putting their trust in Jewelers Mutual to protect their jewelry and the special memories each piece holds. Today, Jewelers Mutual continues to support and move the industry forward by listening to jewelers and consumers and offering products and services to meet their evolving needs. Beyond insurance, Jewelers Mutual’s powerful suite of innovative solutions and digital technology offerings help jewelers strengthen and grow their businesses, mitigate risk, and bring them closer to their customers. The Group insurers’ strong financial position is reflected in their 37 consecutive “A+ Superior” ratings from AM Best Company, as of November 2023. Policyholders of the Group insurers are members of Jewelers Mutual Holding Company. Jewelers Mutual is headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, with other Group offices in Dallas, Texas and Miami, Florida. To learn more, visit JewelersMutual.com.