It seems that at almost every gig, someone asks to see my hands. I think they wonder how destroyed my hands are after an evening of slapping. Years ago, I played with the psychobilly band. After every gig with that band, the fingertips on my right hand looked like hamburger meat. Sometimes during a set, I would pour super glue on them. Sometimes I'd wipe the bloody hand across my shirt. All in the name of punk rock. (I met my wife while playing with that band. She used to come to gigs with an array of first aid items. In part, she won my heart by fixing my fingers.)
Now, I take better care of my hands. People (mainly other players) ask me if I have any tips on taking care of your hands. Here are a few:
- I put Burt’s Bees hand salve on a night, particularly when my hands have taken a beating at a gig. It's pretty greasy. I try to let my hands soak up the moisture while I sleep.
- During the day, I put lotion on my hands. I know it sounds namby-pamby, but Burt's Bees makes an almond milk lotion that is pretty great.
- If I do get a cut or split in my finger, I use liquid skin to seal it. I used to use Super Glue. One problem with Super Glue is that it can form crystals that actually make the cut worse. Also, it usually takes part of your skin with it when it comes off. That said, it will do in a pinch and it's easy to find at almost any store in any town.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands on cold days and nights. I often put on lotion and then my gloves, again protecting my hands and giving them time to soak up the moisture.
- When I get a blister, I lance it with a sterilized needle after a gig (usually at home). I know it's not the best, but in my experience it speeds up the healing process and allows you to keep playing. It seems to me the worst thing you can do is have a blister pop while slapping on your strings. Aside from making a mess, you're exposed to a lot more germs.
Next time, I'll write a little bit about right hand technique (if you can call anything that I do a "technique") with respect to taking care of your hands.