Rings that are stuck are often painful, and can cause swelling to the affected finger and sometimes even hand. It is usually best to try to remove rings as soon as they become stuck, though this is often easier said than done. Usually, the first step is to try to bring down the swelling, as inflamed fingers can make removal all but impossible. Rubbing the finger with lotion or oil, spraying it with chemical glass cleaner, or wrapping it in dental floss or tape may also bring success.
It is always important to keep safety in mind, however. If your ring really will not budge, or if you suspect that your finger may be broken or seriously inflamed, it is usually best to consult a healthcare professional before trying any home remedies.
Bring the Swelling Down
The first step in removing a stuck ring is bringing the swelling down. Drink lots of water, and try to limit your intake of salt. Since hands are often more swollen in the morning, beginning removal efforts in the afternoon or evening is often best. Keep your hand elevated above your heart as much as possible to bring the swelling down, then soak your hand in cold water or an ice bath. This will help the muscles relax and will cause the blood vessels to constrict, which can temporarily “shrink” your finger.
Lubricate Your Finger
Rings that remain stuck after the initial swelling has gone down may need a bit of extra help. Applying a lubricant can soften the skin and help the ring glide off. Moisturizing cream, petroleum jelly, cooking oils, melted butter, and soap are all good choices. Some jewelers also recommend hemorrhoid cream, since it is intended to reduce inflammation.
Do not be afraid to thoroughly slather both your finger and the stuck ring. Gently twist the ring from side to side as you pull it along the length of your finger, but be careful not to tug. You may feel some pressure as the ring slides over the knuckle, but be patient and persistent.
The Glass Cleaner Trick
Many people swear by a ring removal method that involves spraying the finger and stuck ring with a commercial glass cleaner like Windex®. These types of products may reduce the swelling while lubricating the ring, and have the added benefit of not leaving any residue on either skin or jewelry.
The Dental Floss Trick
Wrapping the affected finger in dental floss may also work. This method requires both patience and precision. Try to slide one end of the floss through the ring towards your hand, and then start wrapping the other end around the finger, sliding the stuck ring up as you go and loosening the dental floss so that it is never wrapped around the finger for more than about a minute — any longer, and you could lose circulation. Once the ring slides over the knuckle, it should slip off on its own. Tape can be used in place of dental floss for similar results.
When you are trying to remove a stuck ring, remember not to force it. Forcing a ring can distort its shape, which will make it even more difficult to remove. Intense pain or pressure suggests that your finger may be too swollen to remove the ring, so take a break or have the ring removed professionally in these cases.
If you suspect that your finger is broken, you should not try to remove any stuck rings on your own as this can cause serious damage. Similarly, if your finger starts to turn numb or tingly during the removal process or if you feel like you are losing circulation, stop and get medical help. Most hospitals and health care clinics will cut off rings that are badly stuck, but all is not usually lost in these cases — jewelers are often able to repair and resize rings that have been cut or otherwise damaged.