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Climbing Skin Care

Like any other sport, climbing can do damage to your body. One particular part climbers have to be aware of is the skin. Especially on the hands.

Tearing of the Skin

Torn flapper on my finger.

After climbing for a while, you'll start to see skin damage on your hands. Parts of your palms and fingers will start to build calluses. These are good and bad to have. Why? If the calluses are dry and hard, they can rip open and possibly bleed while climbing. Ouch!

The torn skin from this kind of an injury is called a flapper. Sometimes it’s only a little, then sometimes it’s more. Occasionally I will have these and they suck badly.

One can get rid of a flapper by cutting it off by using nail clippers or small surgical scissors. Or tear the loose skin off then it get wrapped. However, once the skin is ripped, it might be too painful to use the hand for climbing. Depending on your tolerance for it, it might be best to give your hand a rest.

A couple of tips to help prevent flappers are:

The keeping your skin moisturized part may seem like a no-brainer. But it’s a factor to have in mind, especially if you use chalk before climbs. Using chalk on your hands is to reduce sweat so they’re not slick on the holds or rock. It’s is doing its job by retaining moisture. On the flip side, though, it’s also drying out your skin too. If you don’t use chalk, the rough texture of the holds or rocks can also lead to the skin drying out.

Joshua Tree climbing salve

Using lotion or healing salve is a good way to put moisture back into your skin and help make it more resistant to stress. I use Joshua Tree Climbing Salve to treat my hands. It’s an organic salve that I find works great on my skin. One of guys who works at Climb UP, Seth, recommended it after showing him a flapper. He said it works wonders for him. The smell is kinda strong after putting it on but I like it.

Maintenance Work

Maintaining the calluses is simple. One way is filing them with an emery board or soft nail file. It helps soften and smooths them down so they hopefully won’t catch on a hold. I recommend doing this at least once a week or more if you feel the need to.

This also helps prevent finger splits which is when skin on the finger splits open. Usually on the inside of a finger joint. Luckily, I haven’t had these. I’ve heard they are very painful. Climbing is out of the question if this happens.

Wanna See My Battle Scar?

My knees with red scrapes from hitting the climbing wall.

Scrapes on my knees and elbows are pretty common to find after climbing. I don’t know how but I am prone to getting them. I don’t remember at least not recently where I didn’t get one. I mentioned this in my Clothing Attire: What to Wear post the reason why I try to wear longer pants when I climb so I can protect knees. When I’m scuffed and scraped, I show it off to my friends, especially if it’s big or painful. Some marks have turned into scars but they’re barely visible

Taking Care

Protect your skin before and after climbing. It will help you in the long run and hopefully have less downtime to heal. Until next time, happy bouldering!