People may joke about it, but the reality is catching your genitals in a zipper is no laughing matter.
In fact, it has been found that zipper injuries are the number one cause of penile injury in adult men reporting to ERs in the US. According to NBC News, a study done by a University of California San Francisco urology resident named Herman Singh Bagga, which was published this month in the British Journal of Urology International, found that approximately 17,616 people wound up in US emergency rooms between 2002 and 2012 because they caught their genitals, almost exclusively penises, in zippers. Bagga reports,
While permanent damage is rare, zipper entrapment has led to surgical intervention such as undesired circumcision. A more common consequence is infection.
Lots of bacteria can be found in that area, and if the skin breaks, “it’s important once you get it out from the zipper that it’s washed well, and you use a little antibiotic ointment. Keep an eye on it. That’s another reason to solicit medical attention.”
Bagga wanted to conduct the data analysis because, while there has been a developing body of literature on how to free a trapped penis – using everything from screw drivers to wire cutters — many emergency department physicians don’t expect these cases and so don’t familiarize themselves with the techniques.
“Nobody ever looked at it,” he said. “Our goal was to highlight the real incidence.”
In the case that this should happen, Bagga advises, “it’s best to try to free oneself gently by backing the zipper down. If that doesn’t work, don’t struggle. Head for the ER.” He also says not to be embarrassed, you are quite obviously not alone. In fact, Bagga admits even he has “experienced the penis-zipper interaction.” He said that mainly “this is a pain issue. It can completely ruin your night.”
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