In the last month i have encountered four split tips. This is something I am not accustomed to yet split tips are something many a climber suffer from. As many climbers prefer to climb in the wonders of a cold and dry environment, unfortunately, in this environment split tips are bound to happen. (especially if one skin resembles that of a lizard...in which case you want to always wash chalk off and moisture and avoid Anti-hydral, (It will dry out your skin too much) !!)My recent split tips have caused me blood and pain, but more importantly, delay on my projects. So in order to get my skin in shape, I quickly had to learn how to heal these annoying things, and for the future, learn how to prevent them.
After talking to many an experienced climber, thankfully, I found the advice from Peter Michaux, TD, and Dr. Noah Kaufman really helpful. But before I share what helped, be warned!! A big part of the prevention and healing thing is self control and patience. (Hard for a psyched climber wanting to finish the project..!!!)
The arrival of a split tip:
Stop climbing at once (REALLY...) if you lack all control and simply can not step away, tape it up really well and change problems. This will prevent the tear from deepening, thus shortening healing time. Avoid the type of holds causing the damage with all your power. (for example: a crimp). Below are two methods I found helpful. They vary slightly, yet people swear by both methods so take your pick.
Method One: (Peter and TD)
1. Sand the tip down as much as you can bear until the skin is really smooth. If the tear is deep enough, this will mean blood and pain but it really helps... You want to sand the tear completely away so it can not re-tear when you climb again. Sanding not only prevents skin from catching on the rock but also promotes faster skin growth.
2. Wash and clean the split. Put on enough healing cream so there is plenty left for your skin as the bandaid will absorb much of it. I suggest pentene which is a baby diaper ointment and provides the healing properties of zinc oxide. Peter and Tim use Neosporin. Then, sleep on it. This will make your skin white and soft but apparently this atmosphere speeds healing. Continue with this method until the split is fully healed. This will take a few good days depending on how deep the split is. 3. Once the split is fully healed and a new callous is formed, do the test: press your thumb nail directly into the sanded area. You want to experience NO pain. This way you know enough callous has grown. If there's pain, wait a bit longer for new skin to grow. It's always nice to climb without pain and the worry of it possibly re-tearing. If you're pain free, you're ready to climb! Remove the cream and tape and let the skin dry out the night before you intend to climb so allowing the skin to harden.
Method 2: (Noah) Noah is an emergency doctor and long time climber. Being a "big guy", he has ample experience with split tips. He suggest using "Precision Clippers" over sanding. 1. After a shower when the skin is soft (it's easier and hurts less) clip off the edges of the canyon of the splitto make more of a smooth valley. Re-wash hands. After clipping, let it dry and proceed to the next step. 2. Noah reckons that a wet environment is not always the best. He suggest putting on Desitin or Pentene cream which is the baby diaper ointment that I use, and has a high percentage of zinc oxide which helps with healing. Put a Band-Aid on for four hours and then let it air dry for about four hours. Alternate between the two every four hours. 3. Taping is recommend on the third day, but after that you should be good to go with a little sanding to even out the edges. You can always continue on with step 3 of Peters method- the thumb nail test. Noah says that though his method is anal, splits usually heal in two days this way with an effective strength of the heal.
*** Remember, do not climb on the type of holds that caused the tear in the first place before the tip is fully healed. Impatience doesn't pay here..!! What is halfway healed will only re-tear and the continued aggravation will not speed healing and will only delay your chance of sending.
How to tape a split tip:
Put an upside down piece of tape on the tear or the square bandage part of the bandaid so the tape doesn't stick to the cut. This also provides some cushioning protection. Both these methods work over using a full sized band-aid as the tape won't slip while climbing but with a full band-aid it will. Then tape it up! Using the figure eight method works great.
As I said at the beginning, a huge part of healing those annoying split tips is self control and patience. So with that, I wish you all the control you need!! The next post on split tips will cover climbing with a split tip, prevention and the curiosity of crazy glue. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading!
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