Thin-Skinned Knitters

No, no … the title does not refer to knitters who can’t handle criticism!  Rather:  How do knitters cope with thin skin on their fingers?

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Fragile or thin skin that tears easily is a common problem in older adults. Aging, sun exposure and genetics all play a role in thinning skin. Certain medications, such as long–term use of oral or topical corticosteroids, also can weaken skin and the blood vessels in the skin.

Over the last six months I’ve been dealing with a cutaneous drug reactions.  The skin on my fingers is easily lacerated, ripped or torn by so many things:  the corner of a magazine, a tine of a fork, pressing the gear shift on my bike, a hair clip, a flower stalk, the plastic lid on a container of butter, et cetera.  I couldn’t cook, bake bread or work with fibers.  Agony.

I waited for about two months for my skin to heal.  I then carefully put Band Aids on my fingers and made a salad.  It seemed to work until I pulled the Band Aids off; skin came off with it.

I waited another month of no cooking, baking or knitting before I tried again.  This time I wrapped my fingers in gauze and tapped the gauze down with “sensitive skin tape.”  The bandages slipped off as soon as I tried to slice a carrot, leaving exposed skin that would inflame and tear.  So I rebandaged and tried to knit: the tips of my needle kept getting caught in the gauze!

Another month later, after watching me trying various ways to bandage my fingers all the while gazing longingly at my brotforms and knitting, Thor brought home (from Costco) a large box of powder free, latex free, nitrile exam gloves.  After wrapping my fingers with gauze and sensitive skin tape, I slipped on a pair of nitrile exam gloves.  Eureka!  Not only could I slice fruits and vegetables, but I could open containers of butter and twist open the bottle of olive oil!  I made two loaves of sourdough Jewish rye and two loaves of sourdough raisin rye!

After waiting (impatiently) for another week, I tried to knit.  I left the gauze bandages on my fingers in their most sensitive spots and then slipped on a pair of the exam gloves.  My fingers felt so clumsy I couldn’t knit comfortably.

I waited another week.  My fingers seemed to have healed enough that I decided to try knitting without the bandages.  Instead, I slipped on fingers I had cut off a nitrile glove.  Eureka!  I could knit – granted, carefully – but I could knit!

CreamsI faithfully use with what have become my two favorite hand creams (Hawaiian Moon Aloe and O’Keefe’s Working Hands) as I wait for my skin to heal.

Unbandaged, while my fingers look scaly and peppered with healing sores, they’re healing!

Fully bandaged and ready to knit or cook, I look a bit like a proctologist ready for her patients.

But I don’t care:  My fingers are finally healing, and I can cook, bake our favorite sourdough breads and knit again.  I am a happy woman.


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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20 Responses to Thin-Skinned Knitters

  1. Thank you! I am knitting carefully and for limited times throughout the day. My fingers are starting to heal – finally (it’s been going on for a couple of months now!).


  2. kmkat says:

    I cannot imagine the torture that would be not knitting. So glad you are figuring it out and your hands are healing.


  3. salpal1 says:

    The doctor had me get some to put a salve on a sore shoulder. I could not figure out why it was OK to put the salve on my shoulder but not get it on my hands. 🙂 So I have a box of those, and try to be better about using them when my hands get dry and cracked.


  4. Me too … I’ve decided everybody should use them when using cleaning products!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, that’s some allergy! I know what you mean about being grateful for our hands (or any other limb!) working. Right now I have to be careful even cracking open an egg (so I wear gloves to do that).


  6. I’m jealous … an ordinary bandage! 🙂



  7. kiwiyarns says:

    You poor thing!!! I am so glad for you that it is a temporary condition. I can well imagine your torture! And how wonderful that Thor found you gloves you can use!! I am lucky that a bandage on my finger suffices when I get a bit too vigorous with the needles.


  8. Nancy says:

    My sympathies for the long wait for your finger tips to heal…I have had a very bad allergic reaction to acrylic yarn. I was making two baby projects for a friend. My finger tips peeled to the second bend and I lost about 2-3 layers of skin. Sore fingers for two solid weeks. Now I can feel my fingers burn/tingle whenever I touch 100% acrylic. So I have become a yarn snob and use only natural fibers.
    I also crushed my wrist many yrs ago and couldn’t knit/spin/do anything essentially and when I started to heal I couldn’t use, my normally ambidextrous hands the same way. I hadn’t realized before, how much I used both hands to do things. It is amazing to realize how much you don’t think about how wonderful it is to have hands that work and do what you want them to do. I no longer look at anything my hands can do without gratitude.


  9. salpal1 says:

    so glad you are healing and finding solutions. Glad they make those gloves!


  10. And others shared great tips and ideas too .,, so nice of them! >


  11. Susan says:

    Wow, you just helped a ton of people!! Am sending this on to my sister. It is difficile to THINK before acting 🙂 Good job.


  12. I am hopeful my fingers will heal sooner rather than later. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you! I will start checking ingredients of all the soap in the house. Stay well! >


  14. It requires – literally – thinking before doing almost anything – even as simple as opening a paper bag! 😥 >


  15. Ahhh, the highs and lows of fiber addiction! 😀


    Liked by 1 person

  16. So glad you are coping and on the mend. Knit on!


  17. KerryCan says:

    Wow–what a travail! We take our hands so completely for granted and I can’t imagine the stress all of this has caused, especially not being able to do the things you find most relaxing and rewarding. Glad to hear you’re figuring out solutions!


  18. yarnchick40 says:

    Good idea! I too suffered from long term skin problems on my hands after cancer treatment & I feel your pain. After many trips to the dermatologist & a battery of tests, I was told to remove every product in my daily life that contains the chemical methylisothiazolinone. It is a preservative in nearly all liquid soaps these days and it makes my hands horribly raw. Following doctor’s orders was difficult, but was successful. Just thought I’d throw that out there. Best wishes! xox


  19. elizabeth says:

    Try collet blog and their seamwotk mag and it tells you how to make a leather thimble to fit you own finger might he with the knitting I am going to give it a go as imam finding the skin is as you said fragile and dosent like my lace knitting needles nothing to lose and everything to gain good lucke


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