Man working out on weight machine

Hand calluses hurt? If you lift weights, play guitar, or work with your hands (doing things like gardening, farming, or construction), you may have calluses. It’s your skin’s way of toughening up to withstand the kind of work you put your hands through every day. And if you’ve ever said “my hand calluses hurt,” you’re not alone. If you don’t take steps to treat or prevent hand calluses, they can tear. And that’s more painful than thick skin.

You don’t have to change your life to prevent calluses

Chances are pretty good you can’t just stop doing the things that caused hand calluses in the first place. For example:

  • If you’re a bricklayer, you’re probably not going to give up the trade just to get rid of hand calluses.
  • If you love lifting weights to stay in shape, you’re probably not going to give it up for the couch-potato life just to get rid of calluses.

Fortunately, you don’t have to. Spending just a little time to prevent and treat hand calluses will help keep those calluses from becoming a problem or turning into a painful tear. Hand calluses hurt?

Here are 5 ways to prevent and treat hand calluses.

1. Wear gloves to protect your hands

If you’re in the gym, gardening, or working with your hands and forcing your digits to do a lot of work, wear gloves. Why? When you’re lifting, pulling, digging, or anything else that requires a lot of grip strength and creates friction, your hands can take a beating.

Over time, the skin toughens up, and you can develop calluses. That’s normal. But wearing gloves can help lessen friction, protect your hands, and prevent calluses from developing.

Note: Gloves may impact your grip strength a little. But it’s a smart way to protect your hands and prevent calluses.

2. Use chalk to keep hands dry during workouts

When you lift weights using barbells, dumbbells or machines, your hands experience a lot of friction, especially as you sweat. But you can prevent this. How? Use chalk powder.

“Chalk or magnesium carbonate is an important training provision,” according to U.S.A. Weightlifting. “Athletes use it to create a thin coating on the hands…which helps the athletes to maintain a firm grip on the bar.”

3. Adjust your grip

Push the lawn mower. Rake leaves. Chop wood. If you’re not used to using your hands for this type of work, you could easily develop blisters and calluses. The same is true for lifting weights or different types of sports and physical labor. Here’s another way to protect your hands: Adjust your grip.

For weight lifting (pulling and pushing movements)

  • Keep the bar gripped between your mid-palm and the base of your fingers.
  • Try keeping the bar in the crease between your fingers and palms.
  • Or use a slightly lower grip in the mid-palm, especially if you already have calluses.

For other activities:

  • Adjust your grip to prevent skin pinching and folding between your fingers and palm that causes pain and calluses.

4. File down calluses

If you workout a lot or have a physically demanding job, chances are pretty good you’ll develop calluses. And you’ll need to take care of them. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends:

  • Soaking calluses in warm water. Fill the sink or a bowl with enough warm water to submerge your hand. Soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • File calluses with a pumice stone. Use a pumice stone to file down the hardened skin. Glide over skin gently, and avoid removing too much skin.
  • Use moisturizer. Once you’re done treating hand calluses with soaking and filing, apply moisturizer, which will help soften the skin and calluses.

5. Treat torn calluses right away

If you notice a hand callus beginning to rip or tear, don’t ignore it. Treat it right away. Here’s how:

  • Cut away dead skin around the callus that’s easy to remove. Leaving flaps of skin only increases the chance of tearing and ripping again.
  • Treat blister if necessary. If you’ve developed a blister, in addition to a hand callus, drain the blister. Clean the area, and let it dry. Then cover it with a bandage. If you can, take a break from workouts and activities that require major grip strength and cause friction to give your hands time to heal.

If you like lifting weights and working out, playing certain sports, working in the yard, or have a physically demanding job, your hands are critical. With all your hard work, you may even develop hand calluses. That’s normal. But if you want to keep your hands happy, follow these steps to treat and prevent hand calluses.

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References

1. What causes calluses on your hands and how to treat them. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/calluses-on-hands Accessed on May 13, 2022. | 2. USAW Weightlifting Safety Recommendations. Retrieved from: https://www.cscca.org/document?id=307
Accessed on May 13, 2022. | 3. How to treat corns and calluses. Retrieved from: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/injured-skin/burns/treat-corns-calluses Accessed on May 13, 2022.

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