Has anyone else ever experienced this - finger problems.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I know this topic comes up frequently. I even started a thread on it a while back, but lack of a solution is having me post again in hopes that someone will come up with something I haven't yet tried.

    The tips of the fingers of my right hand are getting cut up - NO MATTER WHAT I DO!!!!!
    • I've tried putting various creams, lotions, oils, and even prescription meds on them daily.
    • I cover my hands when washing dishes or doing anything with soap outside of washing myself.
    • I practice cranking my amp big time, and playing with the touch of an infant.
    • I crazy glue my fingers at every gig now. I have to (maybe that's exacerbating the problem?).
    Even when practicing in the house with the gentlest of touches - after about a half an hour they start cracking.

    I'm playing fingerstyle bass for 30 plus years. I've played digging in like a MoFo playing super heavy music 5 nights a week - never had a single issue.

    I've gone to several dermatologists - they've become my least favorite doctors at this point. They say it's eczema, just dry skin, or they don't know what it is and give me one cream or another. Been through 3 creams and ointments now, nothing did a thing. I get the sense the dermatologists aren't even listening to me when I talk. If I get 30 seconds of their time, it's a lot.

    I'm frustrated. I've resorted to using a pick a lot more than I'd like to.

    I'm confident there's a solution, but I haven't found it yet.

    Anyone experience this besides me? Anyone have any ideas outside of the options above which haven't been working?
  2. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    First, I'm no scientist but... chemicals. I recall your discussion of crazy chemicals in supplements for the elderly... Putting crazy chemicals on your skin can certainly be exacerbating your condition, especially if you have an allergy to them or, like excema, an already-heightened immune response just firing like crazy in response to a glue irritant. Remember, I'm not a scientist.

    You may have to go all Tony Iommi on this and invent something for your fingers. Yeah, that would present a whole other difficulty.

    Have you tried flats or strings of a different material?

    Best of luck.

    Cyanoacrylate - Wikipedia

    For the First Time, Study Proves Eczema Is an Autoimmune Disease
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    What type of strings are you using ? Perhaps you have an allergic reaction to whatever is in them. If you are using stainless steel strings, perhaps you could try flats ? Although, if you were allergic to the strings, then both hands would be effected.

    It would seem that your problem in not bass related, in which case your only solution would be to find a dermatologist who knows his/her stuff...and will listen.

    Sorry that I can be of no further help.

    Hope you resolve the issue soon. :)
  4. saltydude


    Aug 15, 2011
    boston CANADA
    Yes, if the prescribed creams are steroidal, more often than not it will thin out the applied areas.
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  5. Just a few random thoughts on this. Don't even know if any of them will help but here goes.
    Gatorbait (my son) and nickel don't get along at all. Heck , even through pants and tucked in shirts , if he wears a belt buckle with nickel in it , he has a welt on his belly from it after less than an hour wearing it. One of his basses came with a set of nickel strings on it. We ditched them in very short order.
    I work in the plumbing trade and a lot of pipes these days are plastic and are glued together. The glues used wreak havoc on my fingers. I have to be very careful not to get any of those chemicals near my finger tips or they crack and split. While the super glue gets you through a gig , I fear that the chemicals in it are doing the same thing to you that they do to me. Soaps and cleaning supplies also cause me problems. In fact , just about any chemicals have an adverse effect on my finger tips. I have gotten to a point where I avoid any type of chemicals (including hand creams) anywhere near my fingers. Since I started doing this , I haven't had any problems. Took a couple of weeks after I started avoiding any chemicals near my hands for the cracking to clear up. I also keep my fingernails trimmed pretty short and clean. If I let them get long in any way , some cracking will show up at the edges of the nails.
    If all else fails , I have a plumbing tool for cutting plastic pipes that will take the finger tips off effortlessly. Granted , you won't be able to play bass any more but you won't have any cracking around your finger tips.;)
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  6. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    If it is dry skin try Vaseline or a similar lotion like neutrogena Norwegian formula hand cream. My thumbs tend to crack open if too dry.
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  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Wow, great stuff. Thanks everyone. This week I'm going to have a go at it all.

    I believe steroids and the glue may be making the problem worse (duh on me for that), I have switched from nickel to steel strings (around the same time the problem started), and I did only use Vaseline for one day while trying different things. Maybe I'll commit to that for a week and see how things go.

    It seems like I went from calloused skin on my fingers that you couldn't put a nail through, to tissue paper. I am determined! Crazy glue today, then I'm quitting it for a while.
    seang15 likes this.
  8. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
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  9. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Joe, I started on upright bass and learned how to tape my fingertips. It may not be your preferred solution, but I'm pleased to give you a link to the thread I wrote on that technique.

    I realize that tape is stiff and it takes a few minutes to flex it enough that it is easier to play, but it sure beats split skin.

    How to tape fingertips
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  10. I am a fan of beeswax. You can buy actual products (Burt's Bees makes great stuff) but I simply use a block of beeswax and a drop of olive oil and body heat to soften the wax. I find beeswax is terrific for many things (lubricate a sticky drawer slide or a window etc. - also great if you play the digeridoo) so I always have a few blocks of it around
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  11. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    put your prefer ointment/lotion at night ... cover them ...

    i had problems like the upper layers of skin would come apart along the fingerprint lines .. !?

    i use some CVS brand of Cetaphil Healing lotions

    i play GHS Pressurewounds ... the oval shaped outer wrap is easier on frets/fingers .. !

    i have also played with electrical tape , with a layer of duct tape over top ... since electric is good stuff to stop shop cuts ... !!?? seems to help protect skin from the duct tape glue .. ?! not pretty , but effective ( FYI .. you can not pick your nose with taped up fingers )
    Blues Infidel and shodan like this.
  12. Londo Molari

    Londo Molari

    Jan 1, 2014
    2 blocks east of Mars
    Decendant from the Clovis culture. "Emitting that wonderful bass effect since 1970".
    Funk fingers?
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  13. eyeballkid


    Jul 19, 2009
    May sound crazy... but take up beekeeping. The compounds in the wax and propolis that you'll get all over your fingers will end this. You can buy propolis balms but straight from the hive is best. But if you go with balms find one with the least additives.
  14. EatS1stBassist

    EatS1stBassist In Memoriam

    Apr 15, 2016
    So cal
    Kangen water alkaline water. Stop with the stuff you are putting on your fingers
    Cut open an aloe plant and use the gel from inside and rub that on. Don’t use pesticides and herbicides and paint without adequate protection. Hope this helps.
    Tom Bomb likes this.
  15. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    When I had a bad cut right across my picking area, I tried these things called Gorilla Tips. Felt kind of weird, but did the job. Never stuck with them to see how long they would last, though.
  16. berklee46

    berklee46 Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2000
    I feel your pain. My fingertips split from the beginning of the fall until springtime. Washing dishes is painful and touching microfiber cloths or flannel sheets are out of the question!

    I’ve tried every over the counter and prescription remedies and the only things that have worked for me are prescription Mometasone Furoate ointment, which can get greasy but works great, and for constant daily use, Accent skin cream. Everything else I’ve tried did nothing for me.

    The “Liquid Bandage” stuff works very well and is less harsh and drying than superglue.

    Also, wearing gloves when it’s cold and dry outside too helps too.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
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  17. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    any and every lotion, cream or ointment you use is going to soften your fingertips. even stuff that would ordinarily help with irritation or allergy is going to soften your skin, and that will make it more vulnerable to tearing, ripping and further irritation.

    since this could be caused by an allergy - and ask any teenager girl who wears pierced earrings, but nickel is a BIGtime allergen - have you had a doctor do an allergy test on you? my husband had one done for a massive number of things - they put tiny tiny pricks on his back and they discovered 17 things he was allergic to that he didn't know about. you could also ask them to test for specific stuff like nickel.

    smoother strings could help. pressure wounds are smoother than a lot of roundwounds, and i found slinys to be rougher than most roundwounds i play. coated strings could also be smoother, depending on what strings you currently play. flats and tapewounds even smoother, but again, maybe you're playing flats already. are you?

    three more thoughts.

    1. find a doctor, whether a dermatologist or not, who plays guitar or bass. they're a lot more likely to listen to you and more likely to have possible solutions.

    2. do you wear gloves whenever you wash dishes or do any housework or woodworking? not only water but chemicals used for cleaning or handywork can affect your skin quite a bit.

    3. how dry is the weather where you are? it's very dry here in l.a., so much that my fingers sting where i hold the sticks when i play drums and my fretting fingertips hurt and sometimes peel a little when i play bass for over a hour, even though that's not usually the case. come to think of it, we need to humidity a little here...

    best of luck finding a solution!
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  18. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    wow, i'm gonna try those for fingerpicks! these are from alienexpress, but they have something similar on amazon, too.
  19. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I completely understand what you’re dealing with, 100% my friend.

    I’ve been playing for 22 years and I’ve always had issues with blisters and cut open fingers. The winter is especially harsh on my hands. They crack open constantly in winter.

    My problem has been limited to roundwounds for whatever reason. Rounds always make me blister and bleed, no matter what kind of technique I use. I fought it for the first 12 or so years- mostly super-gluing myself back together at gigs and playing through it. Then I tried flats. Flats never bother me, even after hours upon days of endless playing. Tapes are even more finger-friendly.

    I’m really fortunate to live in a day and age with so many choices of flats and tapes. I’ve also have learned to really love their sound.
  20. It's cold and dry here. Do you have a humidifier in your house? Dryness is a battle and you might need the extra moisture.

    Even if you just put one in your bedroom, that is 8 hours of extra moisture a day. I just put one in my house a couple of days ago (I have a wood stove) and my fingers feel better already.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
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