Monday, August 06, 2007

Bar Rot

So this past Saturday Mary, the woman I usually work with, was off visiting her mother in Spokane. Another Mary, Mary Lou, filled in for her. Lou, as she told us to call her, has been a professional bartender on and off for twenty years. She moved to Los Angeles about five years ago to be an actor. Ugh. A long road to haul for someone who seemed deep into her forties and not exactly a looker. But that is all beside the point because Lou was an amazing bartender. She can hear 17 drink orders at once, remember them all, and then mix 'em up two at a time. Her hands never stopped moving. Except for when she was washing dishes. I noticed that she would only do that with one hand. I asked her why and she showed me: on her left hand she had what is know as bar rot -- a skin infection bartenders get from always having wet hands and always touching citrus.

I thought I was suffering from bar rot as well but after doing some research tonight, I'm not so sure. I think having my hands in water that is filled with sanitizer for 6 hours every Saturday has set off a nasty case of eczema. I tried to take a picture of my ring and pinky finger on my right hand so you could see what I'm talking about but it didn't come out so well.You can kind of see the skin split on the top knuckle of my pinky. This eczema is so itchy, it wakes me up out of a dead sleep on Sunday morning after my shift. If I constantly put Aquaphor on it all week, and sleep with gloves on (thank you for the suggestion, Julia), it sort of heals by Saturday. But Aquaphor is greasy so I can't touch anything after I put it on. Which means I've been sitting in the writers room everyday with my hands sort floating in the air as I try not to touch anything -- not an easy task when you need to write something down. Unfortunately all this hard work is for not because after a few minutes of washing glasses at the bar all my moisturizing goes to shit and the cycle starts all over again. Outside of quitting and wearing gloves, I have no idea how to get rid of this affliction.

The only thing I really learned from all this is that my middle finger is REALLY crooked. What happened there?

26 comments:

golfma said...

Your middle finger is all jacked up from your volleyball days..smashing that serve of yours at the ass-hats at ND Academy

Lisa said...

Coal Tar is the only thing that will kill that eczema. Dilute and soak your hand in it for a bit. It smells but Bar Rot smells even worse... My BIL worked at the Border and stunk for years after (maybe it was just the Border).

Ahhh, I think your age is starting to show with that crooked finger... just sayin' but I still love ya.

rustyboy said...

When you flip people off, it's like you can put some "English" on it.

Kerri said...

Come on. Whose hand is that?

Anonymous said...

Julie, this is Al Higgins. Post something to get that dead hand off my screen.

Cielo Gold said...

Looks and sounds like what I have going on my right hand. It always flares up after excessive bartending. In fact the only time it truly went away was when I worked in an office, 8 hours a day, five days a week.

This is exactly the reason why I pay my health insurance religiously!! I have freak knuckles!! They are not only ugly, but they itch like hell!!

Anonymous said...

bar rot isnt so much a skin condition, its where citrus gets under your nails and they eventually go yellow then black and sort of rot away, im a bartender and iv got it at the moment, not sure how to cure it either

Jody said...

I have this condition as well and it is 10 times worse than your picture. I wrote about my condition and the treatments I do for it on my blog. You can check it out here: http://prettierontheinside.blogspot.com/2008/10/fast-relief-and-close-to-cure-for.html

Mindy said...

hey- you don't have bar rot, but you definitely have a dry skin condition that i, as a bartenter, have had too! it can be a for of dermatitis. i blame it on the sanitizer, then the fruit just irritates it further.
i've gotten rid of it though.

- every night i put neosporin on it, the a little cortisone cream for the itch. you can put a glove on as well, but it's much more effective to wear a glove while at work washing dishes. (i know it looks silly, but if you just do it for a week, it will be completely gone! and they do have single finger ones you can wear as well)
anyway- i hope that helps.. i know how much it sucks :(

Anonymous said...

i use TRIAMCINOLONE .1% CREAM NMC which i get at Costco with an Rx from my dermatologist. it costs $9.10 and lasts about 6 months. it is for eczyma and psoriasis. i am a saute chef and need to wash my pans constantly in soapy water with degreaser and sanitizer. i feel your pain!

Anonymous said...

I thought that bar rot was more around the fingernails. Either way, it sucks. I am cursed with both the bar rot and the peeling, itchy hands. My nail tech gave me some cream which is a combination of an antifungal, an antibacterial and and antimfammatory and it has almost gone away! Had it for almost a year.

Hannah said...

What cream did your nail tech give you? My hands have been beaten to hell because of this bar rot and i am about to quit because i can't find anything to cure it. I have something that sooths it, my friend gave it to me and it's called badger balm or bag balm. They use it on cow utters after they have been milked for to long. i put it on every night and wear cotton gloves on my hands to sleep. It seems to be helping but my hands always itch. I have even gotten to the point when my bf and I hang out i scratch my hands on his beard.

Rhea said...

For the LOVE of all that is holy, will someone PLEASE give some information on how to get rid of this disgusting and painful skin issue?!? I have been following this thread for YEARS hoping someone would post something helpful!

Anonymous said...

I also have bar rot. my thumb is killing me and everytime i press it im in pain. im going to try the bag balm because i have it availible (for my tattoos, when they are healing)

Anonymous said...

I have it too. Funny how I've bartended 8 years and never had it until those damn mojitos made their way onto the front page of our drink menu. Pouring bleach on it then immediately applying hydrocortisone cream on it seems to help alot, (My grandmothers remedy for ezcema) but recently someone told me Tea Tree Oil made as part of my daily hand routine will kill it then maintain not getting it. The bleach thing had it all cleared up then of course it came right back!

Aloe Ferox said...

I just read your advice on Bar Rot and wanted to share my story with you, about 5 years ago while visiting home in South Africa I stumbled upon a product called Repcillin. The product is manufactured in South Africa, I bought it as a joke but it has now turned out to be my top seller worldwide. Well, let me continue with the story, I bought the Repcillin in South Africa and then took it to the USA with me. When I got to the USA I placed the Repcillin in my fridge and forgot about it. Weeks later a friend of mine asked me about the Repcillin, I responded that I bought it as a joke. She told me I needed to look into it more. She had Bar Rot on her fingers from working in a bar and the doctor was unable to get rid of it, they had tried everything, creams, steroids etc. She has used the Repcillin (without me knowing it) and the Bar Rot had gone away in 3 days.

Ken said...

You can actually get a shot from the dermatologist to stop the eczema. I've had it so bad a times, and it definetly sucks waking up in the middle of the night with your fingers feeling like they're on fire! Aquaphor is a good product but you actually need medication to treat eczema. Hope this helps.

Aloe Feros said...

Wow, there must be a great deal more people dealing with Bar Rot than I first though.

Since posting my story about the Repcillin cream and bar rot, I have got so many emails thanking me about the post.

I told you so! I told you the Repcillin is amazing when it comes to Bar Rot.

Thank you all for the emails, to make things easier, you can go to http://www.AfricanCuresUSA.com/ or search for Repcillin on Amazon.

African Cures USA said...

Click on the African Cures USA to go to the website.

Anonymous said...

try wearing finger condoms when washing the dishes. thats what i'm doing!

Unknown said...

AHHHH, last call here in Cali. So I can come tell yo folks about bar rot. One poster was rioght... it is from the sanatizer. You see, the health dept requires that glasses be washed at 140 degrees F. Since most people can't handle that kind of heat, they have to pump up the amount of chemicals in the water. The result is this pesky condition. Put lotirmin on it before you go to bed or after your shift. Cures it right away.
Good luck,
MSG

lauragan said...

I stumbled upon your blog googling "bar rot," which is what I affectionately call the creeping crud that occasionally still flares on my fingers that is all that has already been said: unsightly, itches like fire, super painful, etc. I still kinda struggle with it but its not as bad since moving to management. When it was at its worst, I went to the dermatologist who gave me a Rx for Clobetasol. And she diagnosed my issue as good old-fashioned eczema. I wish any of you out there who deal with the bar rot a speedy recovery.

Ted said...

Wash your hands with bleach.... I've been in Food and Bev for years and if BLEACH won't kill whatever it is that's gotcha... I dunno what will.

meanCollleen said...

Bar rot is a combination of things and NOT eczema, it is caused by the acid in the citrus making your hand's skin more sensitive to the sanitizer and detergent, red and inflamed stage, which then eats the cuticle, which is essentially the gasket that keeps germs from getting in to your nail bed. once they have entered your nail bed it gets infected with both bacteria AND fungus(from being constantly wet) a doc will prescribe antibiotics. if you can't go to the dermatologist apply Lotrimin cream twice a day and KEEP DRY. this outta clear it up.
this will not go away on its own and if left untreated too long you can lose your nails

Diane said...

I have bar Brittany I'm guessing, my ring and punky finger on my tight hand are horrible. Almost like a ingrown finger nail. Puss comes out sometimes and my nail grows from the side coder to my cuticle now, like on the side. I've been a waitress for 6 years and have had thus problem a good 8 months but just found out what it was. Wish I could Post a picture.

Anonymous said...

Well, one thing I have to say to all of you! Don't read any of suggestions of how to cure your case! Go see a dermatologist. Even if you don't have an insurance it is not as expensive as you think it could be.
I do have so called bar rot from bartending. After reading all your suggestions I did go and see a dermatologist and got diagnosed with dyshidrotic eczema and was prescribed( pay attention as over the counter creams are never as effective as prescription) clobetasol propionate which is a steroid cream. Over the counter creams cure nothing and make the infection spread even more. Besides after having all cuts and burns from the citrus and washing durty glasses God knows what kind of infection and bacteria got your skin infected. Every case might be different. After a week and a half of using cream I am almost done with so called bar rot. Besides latex gloves that you all suggest here is a big NO. As you can develop an allergic reaction with all your broken skin exposed. And use picks to pick up fruit for your drinks. This way you don't touch any citric fruit. And wash and moisturize your hands with fragrance-free cream. As we all know internet is power and we search for answers here. I repeat and suggest to go and see a deematologist especially with all that money we bartenders make. And yes I had to wait for a week for my appointment and used clotrimazole and triple antibiotic cream and tea tree oil that was suggested in internet and nothing helped. And I don't like writing stuff in internet but after what happened to me I don't want you guys to read all the suggestions that might be useless for you and think it will cure your case. Dermatologists go to school for years for a reason. If internet could cure us we would't need them. Besides a tip for you. Without insurance a visit to see a professional is only a 100 bucks and 30 bucks all the visits after. Plus your prescription cost. Not a big price for a healthy skin! And yes it feels good to have healthy beautiful hands again!