Guitar blisters are part and parcel of playing guitar.
Every guitarist had felt the pain of blisters in their fingers when they started playing.
Not only does it prevent you from gliding your finger over the fret smoothly, but it often stops you from playing when skins are severely bruised.
However, it is not a severe health issue and could be curbed with proper care.
People often think blisters are a good sign for a guitarist as it leads to calluses on your finger, but it is not entirely true.
If you opt for the proper technique, they can comfortably develop your playing skills without hurting your finger.
So in this article, we will discuss how guitar blisters and calluses occur and how you can cure them.
How Blisters Occurs?
A blister is a common skin issue that occurs on the tip of your finger and causes a lump in the skin with water liquid in it. While playing guitar, the tip of our finger faces a lot of friction and pressure, and this repeated damage in the skin leads to blisters.
It mostly happens to guitarists who are just beginning on this field or someone who is resuming their guitar lesson after many months. Even many seasoned guitar players also develop blisters when they jam for long hours, but it happens rarely.
Another major factor that causes guitar blisters is the use of thick gauge or sparse quality strings. These strings don’t come with special coatings like others, so they tend to damage the cells located on your fingertip, and it leads to the formation of blisters. People with soft skin also face guitar blisters even if they use high-quality skin.
So when blisters occur, our skin forms a natural barrier to prevent any bacteria and infection affecting the body. It is essential that you should destroy the lump; otherwise, the inner surface will lose its protective layer and will become prone to infection.
There is a misconception among amateur guitarists that guitar blisters are the signs that you are improving your guitar skills and making proper progress. However, these blisters are not a good thing, and it indicates that you are playing the guitar properly.
The blisters are also the signs of poor technique that you are incorporating to play your guitar. Basically, when you are pushing your finger very hard on the fret continuously, and this phenomenon leads to blisters.
Guitar Finger Calluses
The calluses are often considered as the next stage of guitar blisters that assist the guitarist to feel no pain while moving their finger on the steel strings. Basically, it is the hard and dead part of the skin that has formed by the thick protective layer due to repeated friction and rubbing over an extended time.
When the blisters occur, our immune system creates a protective layer, and when they heal, it leads to a tough skin layer that can withstand all kinds of pressure and friction.
Guitar calluses begin to form within a few days after the occurrence of the blisters, and it takes around 8-10 days to become hard. However, the calluses get harder day by day, and over a significant time, it forms an extremely thick layer.
Calluses cause temporary discomfort, and after a week, you won’t feel any pain when you glide your finger over the metal string. Many guitarists have stated calluses on the fingertip also helped to get a better tone out of their guitar due to better contact.
Surprisingly, calluses are a good sign for guitarists as it allows them to play freely without feeling tingling or pain. The protective layers get replaced with a new layer from time to time and prevent the skin from cracking.
However, to maintain this protection, you need to play regularly; otherwise, the skin will make its way back to normalcy. You should avoid playing with wet hands as it will make the protective layer soft, and it will lead to further skin damage. Calluses are healthy for guitarists, but if it gets large, then it would be problematic for you and will lead to severe pain.
Well, blisters and calluses are often glorified as improvement signs by guitarists, but actually, it indicates damage to your body and poor technique.
So let’s check out, how you can cure these issues;
How To Cure Guitar Blisters and Calluses
Here are a few ways that can help you to cure as well as prevent blisters and calluses;
- Your fingertips will get hurt when you start learning a guitar, but if you apply the proper technique, then you can easily prevent any severe damage to your skin. Putting the finger at the right place and stretching fingers properly can help you to avoid blisters. Although you can’t prevent developing calluses in your finger.
- When your fingers get affected by blisters, you should reduce your playing regime and allow the skin to heal. You can split the rehearsal time into a small time interval to avoid putting excess pressure. Keep the blister area dry and avoid putting any pressure or rubbing. It would be a good idea to cover it with a gauze or bandage so it can heal naturally.
- You can reduce the blister pain by playing the guitar for a few weeks with a mixture of chords and scales. Then once the callus starts developing, you should gradually increase your playing time.
- We would recommend you to use lighter gauge when you start playing your guitar. We feel 10’s and 11’s strings would be ideal as they are light and don’t cause considerable damage to the skin.
- You lower the string height as it will facilitate you to play a note without putting too much pressure on your finger.
- To cure the calluses, you can dip your fingertip in a warm antiseptic solution for at least 10min and then rub the area pumice stone. It will not make skin smooth but will deter away from the deal cells.
- Avoid peeling of the calluses, and the best thing you can do is to trim the dead cells using a nail trimmer. However, calluses will be crucial for your playing, so you can use a moisturizer to stop it from flaking off.
- Rubbing the fingertip with isopropyl alcohol can help you to dry out the blister and build a thick skin to prevent getting hurt. You should do this process two to three times a week, depending upon the blister’s inflammation.
- An efficient way to prevent blisters and subsequent calluses is by keeping your nails short. Long nails concentrate pressure on the fingertip, which leads to blisters. Short nails distribute the pressure evenly and reduce the chance of damage to the skin.
- Sometimes calluses get jagged or swell up, and if you play in those situations, then it will cause damage to the underlying soft tissue. So you can utilize a nail file to smooth the swollen up area and prevent any under further damage. We would also recommend you to avoid playing your guitar for a few days and allow the area to heal.
Thank Me Later
Whether you are starting out with your new guitar or play occasionally, you would definitely want to hurt your finger and suffer the pain.
Even if you are passionate about playing, you need to take care of your fingers and prevent blisters and calluses formation. Although depending upon your playing calluses can be beneficial to get a defined tune.