Written by Emily Delpero | Academy of Lions Lions Coach | Toronto

That really annoying feeling when - coming down off the pull-up bar or setting down the kettle/bar bell – you look at your palm to find a chunk of it missing. An angry red patch of new skin laid bare to the world. A tear! And you know you are doomed to at least one night of disrupted sleep due to the hand-throbbies, a few days of gingerly showering +/- washing dishes,  and modifying your training (let alone keeping your palms stubbornly facing downwards so no  non-gym-goer thinks you have flesh eating disease. Who has TIME for that?

In response to constant pressure/chafing and activity, the skin lays down extra thick layers of keratin to offset the shear stress on the skin and nerves below.  These calluses are protective but if they overgrow..they become the root of tears! Below, a few suggestions we’ve compiled from some of the athletes at the gym who’ve found creative and useful ways of pre- and post-rip care..to share! There are many approaches, and some will suit you better than others. Please do not rush out and buy a pile paraphernalia. 

Rip Prevention 

  1. Moisturizer – much of skin’s elasticity comes from its moisture content. What with all the chalking up, hand-sanitizer use etc, palm skin can get pretty craggy. Purchasing a lipid-based cream will help seal in the moisture that is already there. If you are the kind that run into the trouble of moisturizing then immediately having to wash your hands for whatever reason, moisturize at night (lay it on thick) and sleep with hands in socks or gloves. 
  2. Pumice stone – this works for some people, just taking a daily scrub at the calluses while in the shower should do it. 
  3. Razor – same premise as pumice stone. Soften hands in bath or shower, and running a 3+ blade razor over callused skin will pare things down nice and smooth.
  4. Pedi peeler. Straight up. If none of the above work, you may have to upgrade yourself to the tools that salons use to remove tough calluses from the foot. It’s ok. These things are to be taken seriously.

All this said, be careful to only take a bit of skin off at a time. Remember, the calluses are protective (and help your hands mediate friction forces) , we just don’t want them to run the show.

Post-Rip Prophylaxis (Damage control – most of the regimen provided by Ashley Monaghan who’s been through the ringer more than once!)

  1. Rinse with water (this sucks, but a lot of gross crap is washed away by water flow). Saline helps disinfect, hydrogen peroxide helps as well and doesn’t sting. This is better than alcohol or soap for sting factor.
  2. Polysporin + slap a bandaid on it and seal for a day (this actually helps with the throbbing, using pressure distracts the pain fibers at the level of the nerve ending!)
  3. Vitamin E – note* the evidence on this in promoting healing and minimizing scars is equivocal. Works for some, not for others. They are the capsules at the pharmacy, pierced open and the innards applied for overnight healing
  4. Paring the edge down – then the ripped edges of skin start to peel and you can remove these with sterile nail scissors.
  5. Healing should take 2-3 days! Then cycle back to the rip prevention strategies. Keep your hands and wounds moist during this process!
  6. *Huge game-changing tip Obviously doing anything with your hands after a rip is a horrendous undertaking. When showering or doing dishes, slap on some Vaseline over the open sore – this acts like a buffer against hot water.

That’s all for now! Thanks to the academy of lions teams for contributing their suggestions!

Roar loud and take care of those paws…

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