I've been having a problem where my hand skin starts to crack and peel on extended climbing trips and I can't get it heal, even by taking several rest days in a row. Instead, it just gets worse and worse until my fingers are constantly raw and cracked, and my skin is peeling off. Also, sometimes my palms turn red and develop tiny bumps.

Here's an example picture fairly early on the process:

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The missing skin on my finger tips is not due to flappers. Rather, the skin just starts cracking and peels off. Also, once the peeling starts, it spreads until I lose most of the skin on my fingers, and multiple layers come off in some places. You can also see some red spots on my palm.

  • 1
    looks normal to me
    – llama
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 14:08
  • Could just possibly be a fungal infection. If changing chalk doesn't fix it you might try a medical professional
    – aucuparia
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 14:16

1 Answer 1


The problem could be caused by an allergy to drying additives in climbing chalk; that's what caused my problem. I had been using a prefilled chalk ball in my outdoor climbing chalk bag, and when I switched to pure chalk (pure magnesium carbonate) the problem went away. It was hard to discover that my chalk was the culprit, because I don't have this problem when gym climbing, where I also use chalk. However, I use a different chalk bag when I gym climb, and it had pure chalk in it.

I don't know what brand my suspect chalk ball is -- it's not refillable and I don't remember where I got it. However, Metolius sells a "Super Chalk" refillable chalk ball which contains chalk with added drying agents. The package warns that "Super Chalk is a powerful drying agent. Moisturize your hands frequently. If excessively dry or cracked skin persists, stop using Super Chalk".

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Note that Metolius also sells chalk blocks made of pure chalk with no additives; these don't cause me any problems.

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