How To Remove A Stuck Ring From Your Finger

When that special someone first slides your wedding ring on, you're generally hoping to leave it there for life.  Of course, even with the greatest romances there are times when it's necessary to remove a ring, at least temporarily.  (For example, jewelry can be a serious hazard around heavy machinery.)  Unfortunately, bodies change over time and often a ring that slid on easily at first can become difficult to take off.  When you first realize that it's not going to slide easily back over your knuckle, resist the urge to panic.  Chances are you'll be able to get it off on your own without resorting to a trip to the ER.  Here are some tips for removing stuck rings, even from swollen fingers:

Temperature and Elevation

The first tactic to try is relatively simple: raise your hand above your head.  This will encourage any blood that has begun to pool behind the ring to drain away from your finger and hopefully reduce swelling.  You can also try chilling your finger with an ice pack or cold running water (the shower is a convenient place to find cool water above your head).  This approach works best with a ring that is only slightly stuck, however.  For tighter fixes try one of the following ideas.


Sliding a ring over the gradual flare from nail to knuckle is generally easier than forcing it back over the knuckle the other direction. Thankfully, a little lubrication can go a long ways to getting over the knuckle hurdle.  Almost any slippery substance (butter, lotion, etc.) can help, although they can also make the ring more difficult to hold onto.  An unexpected recommendation from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand?  Window cleaner!  Those blue ammonia-based cleansers not only make windows-streak free, they are also excellent lubricants, readily available in most homes, can be easily applied to the targeted area beneath the ring, and may also have slight skin-tightening properties that give you an edge when it comes to ring removal.


If the ring still won't come off, it's time to try a little finger compression.  In essence, you want to carefully wrap your finger from above the knuckle down to the ring with a thin string, compressing the swollen tissue to make it easier to slide the ring back off.  Dental floss is one commonly recommended material because it lays flat and often has a slick wax coating that reduces friction with the ring.  Another possibility used in some clinics?  A strip of elastic!  Wrap the finger using quarter-inch wide (or less) elastic, and then use tweezers to force a little bit of the elastic all the way under the ring.  With the elastic end now on the hand-side of the ring, rotate the end to slowly unwrap the elastic and force the ring back towards the fingernail.  

Having a ring stuck on your finger can be frightening, and the thought of an ER doctor having to damage your special wedding jewelry can be disheartening.  Thankfully, in most cases using one of these tricks will allow you to remove even a tightly-stuck ring at home. If you've run out of other options, a jewelry store, like Goldmark Jewelers, may be able to cut the ring off for you, and then solder it back together to repair the damage.