Of embarrassing trips to the emergency room, a zipper-related accident ranks somewhere in the mid-range -- but the thought alone would make any man wince.
Invented in the 19th century and patented in 1917, the modern zipper revolutionized the field of trousers, making clothing more convenient for men and women alike. There is a downside, however.
A new study reported by the Daily Mail shows more than 17,600 people in the United States, mostly men, visited the ER during the past 10 years after catching genitalia between the teeth of a zipper. Zippers injuries are the most common cause of penile injury in adult men seeking emergency treatment, according to Herman Singh Bagga, writing in the British Journal of Urology International.
Aside from artful grant writing, why was this study conducted? Bagga said emergency room physicians must familiarize themselves with proper techniques for treating such injuries to avoid causing further injury. While most patients do not require surgery, doctors should use antiseptic to fight possible bacterial infection. In the study, 11 patients developed "penile cellulitis" or abscesses following their injury.
Some doctors recommend treating pediatric cases under general anesthesia, unless the median bar of the zipper can be cut to allow the mechanism to fall simply fall off the wound. In such cases, doctors should treat the wound with lidocaine 2 percent topical spray before using cutters on the zipper. Most common in prepubescent boys, the injury might cause localized edema and pain. Although extremely rare, more serious injuries may cause skin loss or necrosis.
In most cases, zippers get caught in uncircumcised foreskin or redundant tissue on the ventral side of the penis. Any injuries involving the urethra require a consultation with a urologist.
It was unclear how many patients incurred the same injury more than once in a lifetime.