Degloving, or ring avulsion, is a rare injury… but really, really gross. (Seriously- don’t look for photos or click on the study links. You’ve been warned.) It’s what happens when much or all of the skin is torn from the finger by a ring. We couldn’t find NHS statistics for the injury, but the US sees 150,000 cases annually– that’s one for every two thousand people (a good chunk of who don’t even wear rings). Because it can remove the blood supply to a chunk of what is your largest organ, degloving is quite serious. Although skin can increasingly be reattached, as recently as 2008 researchers were saying that “amputation is still the best option for most patients.”
And no one wants that.
Which is why it’s becoming common for a doctor, on spotting tan lines or other bike-related injury, to recommend the removal of wedding bands and other rings during outdoor activities. Given the potential consequences of a ring avulsion, it’s difficult advice to argue- though going without isn’t always comfortable and can prompt uncomfortable conversations with one’s spouse.
Which is why we’re seeing an increasing number of silicone rings advertised, popping up in print or catching our scent online after visiting outdoorsy websites. There are dozens of companies in the UK and elsewhere offering medical-grade silicone wedding bands- essentially smaller and stronger versions of the cause bracelets popularised by Lance Armstrong. Prices start around £8 which, quite frankly, is cheap for peace of mind.
So ring avulsion is not particularly common injury- but it can be quite serious and is almost entirely preventable. Having spent a good deal down this gory rabbit hole, we’re going to have the discussion this evening. Sans photos.
AMRAP Rings (UK)
Enso Silicone Rings (USA)