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  • Writer's pictureEzara

Rip Care 101

Warning: This is not a post for someone with a queasy stomach!

A couple of the kids I coach requested a post about rip care. So this is a very basic wound care post. There are definitely exceptions to the rule, but here are some of the basics on what to keep your eye out for when it comes to rip/wound care.

First, let's go over signs and symptoms of infection. Below is an example of a wound that is healing well and a wound that is showing signs of infection.

Call your healthcare provider immediately at the first sign of infection:

  • There is yellow, yellow-green, or foul-smelling drainage coming from the wound

  • There is more pain, swelling, or redness in or near a wound

  • There is a change in the color or size of a wound

  • There are red streaks in the skin around the wound

  • You are running a fever

Next, there are two words we need to define: Desiccation and Maceration. With Desiccation think Dry. With Maceration think Moist (I know, that word is cringe worthy! but that is the definition-oh well!).

1. Example of Desiccation: Notice the dry edges, how the center of rip turns brownish color. The outside is really dry and hard. There is even a crack through this wound.

2. Example of Maceration: Notice how the edges are turning white. Sometimes the edges appear "pruney". This happens when you apply copious amounts of Neosporin, or cream/lotions and then keep it wrapped up all day long. This won’t allow the wound to heal. Keeping it too wet will actually destroy more of the surrounding tissue. Then if you go and jump up on the bars or rings, the skin will tear even more making the rip bigger-ouch!

So here's the Goal: Keep the wound looking between the two pictures above. How do you do this?

1. Clean the wound with soap and water immediately after it happens, and keep it clean.

2. Keep the wound covered and put some Neosporin on it, but also let it air out for a couple hours (maybe even over night).

3. Let the wound heal within it's time frame: 2-4 weeks is how long it takes skin to heal, depending on how big the rip is.

Avoid rips: How do you do this?

Make sure you don’t get HUGE calluses on your hands like the ones below. The huge calluses will cause a huge rip.

But I thought calluses were good to help with gripping on the bar and diminish pain?

You aren't wrong, calluses definitely serve a purpose and are helpful with gripping the bars or rings, and with reducing pain with swinging on bars and rings, however we want to keep the calluses at bay, so we need to maintain them. Meaning don't let them get huge. Take care of them. Use a nail file, sand paper, razer (18 and older is my suggestion for this), pomice stones to keep calluses small and to gently remove the skin.

Don’t use lotion: it will only soften callus, so it will remain a callus and then rip quicker.

Here's an example of good maintained calluses on the hand. You can faintly see the sign of calluses, but they are not overwhelming or bulging.

Here is a little visual aid. The top brown/skin colored layer is the callus, dark purple is the dermis and light purple is the epidermis.

Crazy things I've heard to help "heal a rip quicker": sleeping with a ruler in your hand the night of a rip to keep your palm open and stretch the rip (what?), let a crack form in the rip (NO!), keep it super moist with lotions/rip balm (again, NO!), Bacitracin, ointment creams, Prep H cream, chapstick (?), tobus, super glue(absolutely not), bagbalm, tea bags (Why?), aloe, Bengay (NO!), mountain climber ointment, and new skin (possibly a good idea, but I'd just stick with Neosporin).

In Conclusion:

I say this all the time: The bodies timeline of healing itself, is the timeline of healing itself- period. You cannot speed it up or slow it down, it is what it is. Just like the demand of the sport of gymnastics is what it is. We cannot change it. We can certainly help the process along with positive influences with the items I've listed above, but we cannot speed up the healing timeline remarkably. We can however slow it down remarkably. So take the preventative care measures and you'll be just fine.

Disclosure: You should consult a doctor (MD) or dermatologist for medical advice if the rip displays any signs or symptoms of infection, you are running a fever or the rip does not seem to be healing along the timeline appropriately.

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