A Guide To Bartender Hands: Preventing and Treating Bar Rot

Updated on April 9, 2024
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Bartending can be a hectic job, especially in casinos, and the hands of bartenders can often fall prey to a sneaky foe – bar rot fungus. If you are new to bartending or have experienced your first bar rot infection, this article is a must-read. It will provide you with important information and teach you everything you need to know about this condition as a bartender, including effective preventive measures and practical treatments. Let’s get into the nuts and bolts of hand protection and avoiding bartender hands syndrome. 

Understanding What Causes Bar Rot Infections

Bar rot, also known as paronychia, is a skin infection that affects the nail folds and surrounding tissue. Both bacterial and fungal organisms can cause it. The most common types of bar rot are acute paronychia, caused by bacteria, and chronic paronychia, often linked to fungal infections.

Identifying the Symptoms of Bar Rot

Recognizing the symptoms of bar rot is crucial for early intervention and treatment. Bartenders should be vigilant for the following signs:

  • Redness and Swelling: The affected finger may appear red, swollen, and tender to the touch.
  • Pain and Discomfort: Pain can range from mild discomfort to throbbing agony around the nail fold.
  • Pus Formation: Pus-filled blisters or abscesses may develop, indicating an infection.
  • Changes in Nail Appearance: The nail may become discolored or detach from the nail bed.
  • Itching and Burning: Sensations of itching or burning might be present.

Contagious Nature of Bar Rot

Bar rot, especially when left untreated, can be contagious. The bacteria or fungi causing the infection can quickly spread to other fingers or to people through direct contact. This makes it essential for bartenders to take preventive measures for their well-being and to prevent the potential spread of the infection.

Why Bartenders Struggle With Bar Rot Infections

Bartenders have a demanding job that often involves frequent exposure to water, citrus, alcoholic beverages, sanitizers, and cleaning agents. Unfortunately, this constant exposure can strip the skin of natural protective oils, creating an environment perfect for harmful microorganisms to grow. As a result, bartenders may experience dry, cracked skin more susceptible to infection.

This can be a severe issue for bartenders, as their hands are their most essential tools. They must be able to grip bottles, pour drinks, and handle money easily and precisely. In addition, the nature of their job requires them to work in a fast-paced environment with little time for breaks. This means they may not have time to care for their skin during their shift.

To prevent skin damage and infection, bartenders should take steps to protect their hands. This includes wearing gloves when handling cleaning agents, sanitizers, and certain types of fruit that can harm the skin. They should also use moisturizing creams and lotions to keep their skin hydrated and healthy.

Below is a list of advice bartenders should follow to protect their hands and ensure they can perform their jobs safely and effectively.

7 Tips For Bartenders Hands

Preventing bar rot requires a combination of good hygiene practices and protective measures to maintain the health of your fingers. Here are some effective strategies to keep bar rot at bay:

1. Hand Hygiene  

While hand washing is essential, make sure to use a gentle soap and lukewarm water. Excessive use of harsh soaps can strip your skin of its natural oils, making it more susceptible to infection.

2. Dry Thoroughly  

Ensure you have a clean, dry hand towel at the beginning of every shift. After washing your hands or coming into contact with water, ensure your fingers are thoroughly dried, including the spaces around your nails. A good tip is to have a dish towel looped through your belt or tied to your apron just for your hands to keep your hands as dry as possible throughout the shift.

3. Protective Gloves 

Consider wearing nitrile gloves when handling cleaning agents or engaging in tasks that expose your hands to moisture. This barrier can shield your skin from the detrimental effects of prolonged moisture exposure.

4. Nail Maintenance 

A regular manicure is recommended to keep your nails trimmed and clean to prevent debris from accumulating beneath them, which can create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Using a hard nailer or nail strengthening cream is also recommended. 

5. Moisturize Regularly 

Lotion, lotion, and more lotion. Applying a gentle moisturizer containing natural oils is essential in maintaining the skin’s protective barrier and preventing excessive dryness. Use a lotion 30 minutes before the shift and before going to bed. If your hands are extremely dry and cracked, apply a thick layer of ointment and then wear latex gloves while sleeping.  

6. Avoid Nail Biting or Picking 

These habits can damage the nail folds and make your fingers more susceptible to infection.

7. Proper Cleaning of Bar Tools 

Regularly sanitize your bar tools and utensils to prevent the transfer of harmful microorganisms to your hands.

Bar Rot Treatment Options

If bar rot develops, seeking treatment as soon as possible is critical. Terrasil for bar rot has proven more effective than other brands at killing the fungus. It is a chemical-free natural ointment ideal for sensitive skin, such as bartender’s hands. However, severe or persistent infections, such as pus drainage or oral antibiotics, may necessitate medical attention.

As a bartender, your hands are your valuable assets, and their well-being is essential for your professional success and personal comfort. By implementing these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing bar rot, ensuring that your fingers remain healthy and ready to create those delightful concoctions without any discomfort or inconvenience. As bar rot can be contagious, sharing these preventive tips with your fellow bartenders can create a safer and more hygienic work environment for everyone. Remember, a little care goes a long way in maintaining the health of your hands and preserving your passion for bartending.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.