Winter fingertip cracks and woes

Transcript of conversation on LinkIn “Harpists” List (used with permission, edited slightly)

The original question was “How can Melody’s be of more service to our customers?” The conversation morphed thus:

Renee Hall, Harp Soloist, wrote:

This will sound like an odd request, but I would love harp specific band-aids for fingertips! Nothing like winter finger cracks making it painful to play, but not being able to perform with band aids because they’re ugly….. Well-fitting finger tip bandages made out of stretchy medical band (I am thinking of some thing disposable you can slip over a fingertip, fitting like a thimble or like a money counting tip bank tellers sometimes use). They would probably sell to the general public too, bc bandaging a fingertip is tricky!

Just my thoughts for the evening….  Thanks!

Darhon Rees-Rohrbacher; DMus, RN, MS-N Instructor at Bryant & Stratton and HVCC wrote:

When my fingertips get raw (for whatever reason), I use Nu-Skin. Wash the fingers & apply moisturizer and let soak in. Then paint a thin coating of Nu-Skin over the affected area. Allow to dry about one minute and apply a 2nd coat. The coatings will last through several days before they need to be reapplied.

Gianetta Baril Harp Instructor at University of Calgary wrote:

Regarding cracks on fingertips, Renee, I have tried so many things including new skin, various bandaids etc. None of the them ever worked to satisfaction and the pain was so excruciating that I often was in tears just with the thought of putting my fingers on the strings. Even the new skin wore off within a couple of hours. My life changed forever when a bass player colleague who used to play with bleeding fingers shared her solution. Nail glue ie, the glue one uses to put false nails on. ( I know, that’s not something harpists likely ever do!! 🙂 ) Just put a drop or two on the crack, wipe off the excess quickly and let dry for about 10 seconds. It will hold the skin together, completely taking away the pain and will stop the crack from getting any worse. If you find the sound from that finger a little harsh, just lightly file it with a very fine nail file. Have used this for performances, recordings etc for years now. It works!!

Marg Lepage Moonstone Harp wrote:

I actually have used Crazy Glue as a last resort when my fingertips crack. I also found that NuSkin wore off really quickly as soon as I started playing. I think I will try Gianetta Baril’s suggestion instead of Crazy Glue. Thanks Gianetta!

Ellen Beckerman musician, teacher wrote:

I have stopped getting finger cracks once I started regularly using Shakai Borage Dry Skin Therapy Hand Cream. Great stuff. Use it morning and night, apply it liberally, and just let it soak in. I really work it into the finger tips. Maybe it will help someone else!

 Marg Lepage Moonstone Harp then wrote:

Hello Ellen Beckerman…Do you find this softens the harp calluses as well as preventing cracks? I would not want to lose the calluses…

Ellen Beckerman replied:

Hi Marg, I hadn’t even thought of that. No my calluses do not seem to be softened by the cream, as long as I keep on pluckin’!

Janet Lanier Oboe, English horn, Lever Harp, Composition, Video Tutorials wrote:

I would often have painful cracks at the corners of my thumbs or index fingers and really hated using something to protect the crack because it felt different on the harp. I would use Anbesol for the pain which helped. A couple of years ago I tried a glycerin hand cream made by Zoe Life Natural Products in Colorado and ever since then have never suffered with the cracks again. Also, it has no affect on changing the calluses. It takes just a little to soften both hands once in the morning and evening and is not greasy. If I start feeling that early sensation of a crack coming on (due to harsh cleaning products for example), I just use the cream a little more often and it prevents cracks. It’s called Glycerin Hand Cream and it’s $8.50 but a jar lasts a really long time and the relief of no longer having those cracks is worth every penny. It’s also wonderful for the feet. Here’s the link:—Such.html

 Mary Radspinner Harp Music Editor, Advanced Reiki Practitioner asked:

Would any of you object to me putting the comments about painful cracks on fingers and thumbs on our blog, or even writing a short article about it and sending it out in one of our e-blasts?

I have used calendula cream for cracks and it softens the skin up so that it can grow back together. I use it in combination with New Skin or the cheap version of that at Walgreens. The calendula cream is made by Regina Dale, one of our customers.

 Marg Lepage Moonstone  replied:

E-mail blast is a great idea Mary, especially if it will reach those who are not on LinkedIn.

ALLEN DEC ESOL Instructor, Minister,Spiritual Advisor, Musician (Harp), Composer, Songwriter then added:

Gianetta’s suggestions are spot-on! I’ve used the same techniques. But the one basic rule is…. Moisterize, moisterize, moisterize!! I like Queen Helene’s hand lotion (cocoa butter). It’s inexpensive and doesn’t make my plucking “squeak” the strings.

Gianetta Baril Harp Instructor at University of Calgary then added:

Sure, Mary, I think it would be great to have this info consolidated and available to harpists in whatever format. Just to add to the thoughts, I agree with all that moisturizing is essential. Unfortunately, in our extremely dry climate here, I have never found anything for my extremely dry skin, that works well enough, doesn’t make greasy hands etc. I will try some of the suggestions above though. My solution for the dry hands and dry calluses which sound awful is to lightly file the calluses just before performances and I use a cream called Prevex which gives my fingers a bit of traction to stay on the strings and create a warner sound. Its quite pricey ($12) but a TINY bit goes a really long way.

Added October 14, 2014:  Onofre Schnack says: Patricia Adams Harris gave me the best treatment for cracked fingertips…Aquaphor from Eucerin.   Since I have used it for almost a full year I have not had any cracked fingertips.    I live in the Tucson area which is a desert and I have always had cracked fingers since I was little…until now…Aquaphor is the answer.   Thank you Patricia!!!

So there you are!!  A few choices to help your hands this coming winter.



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4 Responses to Winter fingertip cracks and woes

  1. Janet Lanier says:

    Just wanted to give an update on my earlier comment about the Zoe Life Products hand cream. Unfortunately, the owner of that product made a decision to end her business a few months ago. Since then I was really concerned about finding a substitute because I had tried so many hand creams before I found the Zoe products that worked immediately on my finger cracks. The Zoe product had glycerin as a main ingredient so I searched for products with that as a starting ingredient. Jergens Ultra Healing Dry Skin Moisturizer has water, then glycerin as its starting line up of ingredients. I’ve been using it for a few months now and have not had any cracks on my fingers. I use it once in the morning and evening. I honestly don’t know if it’s the glycerin that makes a difference or if it works only for some people. All I know is I’m a happy harper for having crack free fingers.

    • maryradspinner says:

      Thank you Janet! Maybe the glycerin has healing qualities. I’d like to try making my own, so that I don’t get the preservatives in the store bought stuff. I think you can buy glycerin at the health food store, not sure. — Mary

  2. maryradspinner says:

    Daisy Eddy says: Mary, I use two products, here in the wild west of cold Montana: from Big Sky Naturals,(Mary Abrams) P.O. Box 20271, Billings, MT or phone 406-861-9256(c), a product called Wonder Balm, a rub-on product; and from (Jill Flikkema), phone 406-736-5391, a product called “Fiddlmom’s Finger Fixer, a product that comes in a roll-on, like a lip balm or a roll-on deodorant, a liquid that rolls on wet, and you wait until it’s dry before using your fingers. This last was intended for fiddlers and guitarists, but works for harpists, too!(there is no “e” in that fidlmom) Both of these women work out of their homes, putting together essential oils and organics and other stuff in their products. They started this from their own experiences, and worked to find a product that helped themselves and close friends. Slowly word spread in their own areas of interest.
    I started out using these two for finger tips, but after covering that, I use the Wonder Balm at night for my whole hands, cuticles, aching joints and muscles. Wonder Balm also heals bruises, bee stings, mosquito bites, sore muscles. I try to use the Wonder Balm daily or nightly, as a preventitive, but when the crack or near-crack comes, out comes the Finger Fixer!
    Daisy Eddy
    Billings, MT

  3. Bill Berry says:

    When we lived in the mountains of NC a fellow skier gave us a small can of “O’Keeffe’s “Working Hands” hand cream, The lid reads it was made for Dry hands that crack & split. My wife doesn’t play the harp, but she swears by it having sensitive skin that cracks/splits when cold. To date I have been fortunate and not needed it, but will if that ever comes to pass.
    Merry Christmas:)

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