Help -- I've Sliced the Tip of my Right Thumb Off and I Have a Concert This Saturday...!

I can't be the first person this has happened to... Does anyone have any tips on how to heal my thumb up fast? I was using the mandolin slicer and lost about an eighth of an inch off the side of my right thumb that I use for playing. It wasn't too deep of a cut as it was mostly callus that went but there was some bleeding. It's bandaged up now, but I'm worried about my concert this Saturday, plus I have rehearsal with my accompanist this Thursday (three days from now...)

Does anyone have any tips (pun intended) for healing up extra fast? I've thought of using superglue but I'm worried the texture of it will be too rough and won't sound right. Has this happened to anyone else? Thanks in advance!

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Super glue has been used by some in the past. Perhaps you can sand the rough parts.  Another possibility is to use a thumb pick. That's what i would do.   I also would avoid slicing mandolins from now on.  They are nice instruments. (just a little joke I couldn't resist).

I will try superglue and thumb pick. Thanks Jody, I can certainly appreciate a bit of levity!

Jody Stecher said:

Super glue has been used by some in the past. Perhaps you can sand the rough parts.  Another possibility is to use a thumb pick. That's what i would do.   I also would avoid slicing mandolins from now on.  They are nice instruments. (just a little joke I couldn't resist).

Other than Jody's suggestions all I can think of is dipping the thumb in meths (methylated spirits).  It's what a double bass playing friend at school would use after a tough gig to heal and disinfect any cuts, blisters or other wounds.  It apparently helps toughen the callouses.

When I learnt viola (a long time ago) I was also advised to use meths to help speed up the toughening up of my left hand.  I'd pour a little into a jar and dip my fingers in it a couple of times an hour and it evaporates almost immediately when you remove your fingers.  It worked for me over a couple of weeks. 

Meths is commonplace here (at every petrol station, hardware shop, pharmacy etc), but I'm not sure you can get it in the US or at the least it's called something else.  A plectrum banjoist friend who was visiting New Zealand from Canada had never heard of it.  I wouldn't mix meths and superglue as the glue would likely dissolve in meths, but you could try the meths over the next couple of days and then apply the glue after washing the meths off.

Thank you Brett! I’m off to the pharmacist to see if they carry methylated spirits. I know I’ve encountered meths many times in the UK but can’t recall seeing it here in the US. I appreciate your help!

Brett Lowe said:

Other than Jody's suggestions all I can think of is dipping the thumb in meths (methylated spirits).  It's what a double bass playing friend at school would use after a tough gig to heal and disinfect any cuts, blisters or other wounds.  It apparently helps toughen the callouses.

When I learnt viola (a long time ago) I was also advised to use meths to help speed up the toughening up of my left hand.  I'd pour a little into a jar and dip my fingers in it a couple of times an hour and it evaporates almost immediately when you remove your fingers.  It worked for me over a couple of weeks. 

Meths is commonplace here (at every petrol station, hardware shop, pharmacy etc), but I'm not sure you can get it in the US or at the least it's called something else.  A plectrum banjoist friend who was visiting New Zealand from Canada had never heard of it.  I wouldn't mix meths and superglue as the glue would likely dissolve in meths, but you could try the meths over the next couple of days and then apply the glue after washing the meths off.

I believe what you are calling "methylated spirits" is called "denatured alcohol" in the US.

I cannot see any benefit from you dipping your thumb in grain alcohol that has had poison added to keep people from drinking it.

I think someone was pulling your leg as you would find it extremely painful to do what you are planning. 

If you think this will help you then you might as well dip it in rubbing alcohol.  Or use Everclear if you can get it, at least with that you can get boozed up and not feel the pain. And they don't have the added poison. 

Besides some sort of coating, or a pick, only time and healing will solve it.

PS,  Stick with a very sharp knife and stay away from novelty cutters. A good knife, with a ceramic or diamond stone and strop, will always cut what you want (and not what you don't).

Thank you, Joel! I am exploring every possible angle… Grace found some kind of silicone finger cover that she’s ordered for me and I should be able to try it out as soon as tomorrow. If that doesn’t work I may just have to postpone the show, but that wouldn’t be the end of the world either.

Joel Hooks said:

I believe what you are calling "methylated spirits" is called "denatured alcohol" in the US.

I cannot see any benefit from you dipping your thumb in grain alcohol that has had poison added to keep people from drinking it.

I think someone was pulling your leg as you would find it extremely painful to do what you are planning. 

If you think this will help you then you might as well dip it in rubbing alcohol.  Or use Everclear if you can get it, at least with that you can get boozed up and not feel the pain. And they don't have the added poison. 

Besides some sort of coating, or a pick, only time and healing will solve it.

PS,  Stick with a very sharp knife and stay away from novelty cutters. A good knife, with a ceramic or diamond stone and strop, will always cut what you want (and not what you don't).

Dipping ones fingers in either Rubbing Alcohol or Ethanol (Everclear or Vodka, etc.) basically removes the natural oils from the fingers, causing them to develop a hard outer layer. Esp. in wintertime, this can lead to cracking of the outer layers of skin and also splitting of the nails.

My nails suffer from dry winter air and split massively (I split two this weekend). If I remember to do it, I usually dip them in olive oil (or just eat pizza) daily. I'm not sure it helps but at least my fingertips are tasty all winter.

So how did it work out? Did you manage to play the concert?

No, the concert has been postponed to 20 Feb. I’ll post the link here but you’d have to be up very late to see it in Europe. Showtime is 7:30pm Eastern US time... https://www.crowdcast.io/e/blacksmith-shop-concerts-5

Thanks for asking. I really appreciate everyone’s responses here. I’m so grateful for this online community!

Pär Engstrand said:

So how did it work out? Did you manage to play the concert?

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