Our hands are very important to us no doubt. After several little accidents with my fingers and worries about getting through some recent concerts, I was wondering what other harpist do to take care of your hands or finger tips?
Paul, I’m a fan of aloe vera, sold in tubes in the U.S. for about $4.00. “Lily of the Desert” brand carries 99% Aloe Vera Gelly. Apparently this will go deeper under your outer skin than lotions just containing a small percentage of aloe vera. When you rub it onto hands or other parts of your body, it will be absorbed nicely in about one minute. Applied after showering, or before retiring, you will notice improved moisturization, and smoothness.
Until this year I always blamed my bad skin on cold weather, but it hasn’t even been that cold here in the NW-USA this year. Just now I have a crack opening on my right pointer and right thumb, and a big bruise on the callous of my left ring finger.
We’ve had spring-like weather here for weeks, but still my hands are a mess. They have Neutrogena handcream here in three unit packages, and I may try your technique next.
I know a harpist who doesn’t do any of the vegetable chopping in her house–she has her husband do it all. Not all of us have that option, so I try to be super careful in the kitchen. I also wear gloves when I garden or do cleaning. Did you ever see the video of the hand model? It is kind of crazy–talk about being protective of your hands:
When I had the infamous glue gun debacle (about melted my index finger pad off right before all of my Christmas gigs) I used raw aloe vera directly from the plant. Luckily my son’s teacher had just given him a small starter plant as a gift. I broke off a limb (stalk, petal, frond?) and squeezed the juice directly on the burn. It felt great and I think it sped up the healing process. And about the hand paranoia, yes I’m right up there. I feel super left out during the dads vs. sons basketball team challenge. Everyone says “Why aren’t you out there?” and I have to go into this diatribe about finger-fears.
I chop and cook, work in the garden and I have two small children so I wash my hands a lot. Oh, and I’m a harpist! Here’s my advice:
Gloves in the garden and for any washing up. Shea butter at bedtime. Also mind the soap you use to wash your hands. Try to find something that actually has olive oil or shea butter in it…sometimes they say they have it but the ingredients show otherwise.
I am fortunate that my hands aren’t too dry, but I do get hangnails frequently. I clip them off immediately so that they don’t get worse. It is terrible to have an infected finger and try to play the harp! If I do get a cut or an infected hangnail, then I use a very thin Bandaid – Plastic Comfort-flex brand. They are so thin and flexible that you can even play a concert while wearing them.
I consider myself extremely fortunate. In more than 30 years of professional woodworking for my harp repair business and restoring an 1860’s house, both of which included using a lot of machinery, I’ve never had a hand injury more serious than a cut. But I am VERY careful, and I don’t have certain machinery in my shop, like a planer or joiner, because they are so risky to use.
When I do get a cut or a scrape I stop what I’m doing right away to clean it out and bandage it. Scrapes which don’t bleed are much more prone to infection than cuts that bleed. If I have a cut, I let it bleed for a minute or so before bandaging it. For a scrape, I scrub it out well with soap and water, then pour hydrogen peroxide over it several times before putting a bandage on it. In this age of anti-bacteria resistant germs, infection should be your major concern. A year or two ago, a friend of mine who is a very fine harpist whose name you would recognize visited her mother in the hospital. She apparently had a scratch on her arm. It became infected and she nearly lost her arm because of it. Fortunately they found a drug that would treat the infection.
Tomorrow I will be looking for NexCare Skin Crack treatment. It has gotten twelve 5 star reviews for being a sting free adjunct to rapid healing. I had forgotten how awful the stinging was when I was using another skin glue that was very popular at the time.
I was only able to practice for about an hour today because of the large opening at the corner of my thumb, but hopefully if I can find the NexCare, I’ll be in better form by tomorrow afternoon. If I can find the stuff, I’ll submit my review here.
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