Flappers from Climbing: How to Deal with Them

By: Derek Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023
Rock climbing can be thrilling, but it comes with risks. One of them is the dreaded flapper – skin tearing off due to friction from climbing holds. Here’s how to prevent and treat them: Take preventive measures to avoid flappers – keep hands healthy and use proper techniques during climbs. You’ll be ready to rock […]

Rock climbing can be thrilling, but it comes with risks. One of them is the dreaded flapper – skin tearing off due to friction from climbing holds. Here’s how to prevent and treat them:

  1. Take care of your skin before a session – moisturizing your hands and washing them before climbing. Chalk can also provide grip and reduce friction.
  2. If you get a flapper, clean the area with soap and water, and assess whether you can continue.
  3. Tape can provide protection – place it over the flapper, and extend it on each side. Don’t tape too tightly.
  4. Flappers need time to heal – keep them clean and dry. Use salve or cream to help, and sandpapering edges can prevent it from catching on holds.

Take preventive measures to avoid flappers – keep hands healthy and use proper techniques during climbs. You’ll be ready to rock climb again!

Understanding Flappers

Flappers are a common issue for rock climbers. They are painful skin injuries that occur when a piece of skin tears away from the palm or fingers due to friction and strain placed on it while gripping climbing holds.

Understanding how to deal with flappers is essential for climbers. To gain a better understanding of flappers, here are some key words related to this issue:

  1. Climbing Flapper: Skin injury caused by friction and strain while climbing.
  2. Climbing Tape: Adhesive tape used to prevent and protect against flappers.
  3. Climbing Balm: Product used to moisturize and heal skin to reduce the risk of flappers.
  4. Antihydral Cream: Cream used to reduce sweating on hands.

Everyone’s skin reacts differently. So, preventing and treating flappers may require experimentation. Fun fact: the term “flapper” originally referred to fashionable young women in the 1920s! Although, in the context of rock climbing, it has a very different meaning.

Flappers may slow you down, but you can take a break and enjoy the view!

Prevention Techniques

Preventing flappers is key for climbers wanting to keep their hands healthy. Here are some techniques to help protect them:

  1. Proper Hand Care: Moisturize regularly and use hand cream after each session.
  2. Climbing Tape: Cover vulnerable areas like palms or fingers with tape to reduce friction.
  3. Calluses: Keep them smooth with sandpaper or a pumice stone.
  4. Chalk Up: Apply chalk to your hands to reduce sweating and improve grip strength.
  5. Climbing Salve: Use a salve or balm before and after climbing for added protection.

It’s also important to wash hands before and after climbing to remove dirt and bacteria. Don’t over-file calluses as this can cause sensitive skin prone to flappers.

I learned this the hard way while on a long climb. A piece of skin tore off at the base of my finger – it was painful and difficult to continue climbing. But with proper treatment and time, I healed up and was back on the rocks!

Follow these prevention techniques to keep your hands healthy and enjoy your climbing experience.

Treatment and Healing Process

  1. When treating and healing climbing flappers, there are a few key steps.
  2. First, assess how bad it is.
  3. If small, trim with sterilized scissors.
  4. If bigger and deeper, leave it be.
  5. Clean the area well with mild soap and water.
  6. Then apply antiseptic ointment or salve to promote healing and prevent infection.
  7. Cover the flapper with climbing tape, so it creates a barrier between your hand and rock.
  8. Give it time to heal; usually 1-2 weeks.

Extra tips to expedite healing and stop future flappers:

  • Keep hands clean and dry.
  • Avoid filing or sanding down calluses too much.
  • Use a balm or cream to keep skin healthy and resilient.
  • Always warm up properly before each climb.
  • Listen to body and take breaks when needed.

Following these techniques and incorporating preventative measures will help care for your skin, reduce flappers, and keep your hands healthy. Healing flappers takes time, patience, and lots of self-care!

Recovery and Maintenance

It is important to give your flapper enough time to heal. This usually takes 1-2 weeks. During this time, avoid any activity that may further irritate or damage the area.

To help heal and prevent infection, keep your hands clean and moisturized. Try different products to find what works best for you.

I once got a flapper on my hand while climbing. Experienced climbers advised me to tape the area without restricting movement. Their guidance and care helped the flapper heal within a week.

Prevention is key to avoiding flappers. Don’t file down calluses as they offer protection. Use tape to provide extra protection. If you get a flapper, resist peeling off the skin. This will just prolong the healing process.

Long-Term Prevention Strategies

To prevent flappers when rock climbing, use long-term strategies. Keep your hands healthy and minimize skin injuries for an enjoyable experience and quicker healing times.

Proper hand care: Moisturize with cream and wash before/after climbing.

Callus maintenance: File down calluses to avoid them becoming too thick or rough.

Callus prevention: Use tape to protect vulnerable areas like the top of your palms.

Climbing balm: Apply balm or salve to keep skin supple and less prone to flappers.

Warning signs: Pay attention to any discomfort or hanging skin. Take action with tape or other preventive measures.

Chalk: Don’t overuse it as it can dry out skin. Moisturize afterward.

With the right care and a bit of dark humor, you’ll be able to conquer any skin injury and enjoy your climbing adventures.


Flappers on rock climbers can be a pain. But, with the correct care, you can deal with them. Use climbing tape to protect your skin. It should cover the whole area. Also, use balms/salves to keep your skin supple. Regularly apply them before and after climbing.

Proper hand care is also important. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly. Avoid too much chalk as it can dry out skin. If you get a flapper, treat it carefully. Clean with soap and water. Trim off any hanging pieces. Apply antihydral cream around the area, not directly on it. Don’t rush healing. It can take days to weeks. Look for infection signs. If seen, seek medical attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions on Dealing with Climbing Flappers:

1. How long do climbing flappers take to heal?

Flappers can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to heal, depending on the severity of the injury and how well you take care of it.

2. How do I tape a flapper on my palm?

To tape a flapper on your palm, clean the area, apply an adhesive bandage or climbing tape directly over the flapper, making sure to cover the raw skin. Secure it firmly, but not too tight, to allow proper healing.

3. What can I do to prevent flappers during a climbing session?

Properly maintain your calluses, keep your hands moisturized, use climbing tape or hand cream for protection, and avoid excessive rubbing or chafing on rough climbing holds.

4. What is the best way to treat flappers?

When you get a flapper, clean the area, gently trim any loose skin, apply an antiseptic salve or antihydral cream, and cover it with a bandage or climbing tape to protect it while it heals.

5. Can I continue climbing with a flapper?

It is generally recommended to avoid climbing with a flapper as it can worsen the injury and extend the healing time. Take a rest until the flapper has fully healed.

6. How can I keep my hands healthy to prevent flappers?

Regularly moisturize your hands, file down rough calluses, clean your hands and scrub your nails after each climbing session, and use climbing balm or salve to keep your skin in good condition.

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About The Author

Derek, Co-Founder at Know Nothing Nomads

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers.

Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me.

When I'm not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

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We are Derek and Ashley of Know Nothing Nomads. Whether it is hiking, camping, or just generally being outside, we love it. We are so happy that you have found our little blog and hope that you stick around a while. Feel free to contact us with any questions or get in touch with us on social media!


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