Building calluses on your fingers and increasing your finger and grip strength saves you countless hours of pain when doing activities such as playing a string instrument or climbing rocks. Calluses allow you to progress quicker since you'll spend your time doing the activity instead of nursing sore skin. One way to toughen up your fingers is to keep doing the activity over and over, but taking some shortcuts can build tough hands in a shorter amount of time.
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Press your fingertips into ridged but not sharp surfaces. Guitar Files suggests using the blunt, rolled edge around the top of a sealed can as one possibility. Alternately, use special callus builders available from music equipment suppliers. These are surfaces with rows of small ridges that mimic the feel of strings on your fingertips. Do not use anything that will cut your fingers; you’re trying to toughen the skin, not destroy it.
Practice pushing your fingers down on a handheld grip tool for musicians to build strength. The tool fits in your palm and has four separate pads connected by springs that offer resistance. Push down on each pad with your fingers as if you were trying to press down on guitar strings. Some tools have optional callus builders or work with builders you buy separately and snap onto the pads.
Wipe your fingertips with rubbing alcohol daily. The rubbing alcohol dries out your skin, potentially increasing the speed with which the rough, dry surface of a callus forms. Wipe your fingertips with a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol, or use alcohol wipes, which health care providers use to clean your skin before giving you a shot. These products are available in most drugstores.