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Skin Disorders

Most musicians will undergo some sort of change to those parts of their skin that are in direct contact with their instrument. Skin disorders that result usually require no medical attention, and many are not noticeable to anyone except the musician. Knowing that some changes to skin may occur will prevent a minor issue from becoming a major problem.


String players develop calluses at the end of their fingertips. This is especially true of the left hand, which consistently makes contact with the strings. Calluses on the right hand may call into question the musician's bow hold. In this case, a teacher or professional musician should be consulted to ensure that the bow is being held correctly.


Some string players experience skin conditions resulting from contact with specific instruments. "Fiddler's Neck" affects violin and viola players. Occurring on the left side of the neck below the jaw where the instrument is held, Fiddler's Neck creates redness or hyperpigmentation, thickening, and (in rare cases) inflammation. It is caused by friction between the neck and the chin rest and local pressure. "Cellist's Chest" and "Cellist's Knee" causes tenderness, reddening, and hyperpigmentation to the chest and knee respectively. In addition to calluses on the left hand, double bass players usually develop calluses on the right hand as well due to the amount of pizzicato playing they are frequently asked to do.


Skin disorders may be caused by emotional stress. Common to many musicians is hyperhidrosis, which is abnormally excessive sweating that does not result from exercise or heat. When this condition affects the hands, it can interfere with the musician's performance.


Most skin disorders are normal due to friction and consistent contact with the instrument. When there is cause for concern, a medical professional should be consulted.

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