A writer’s callus is an area of accumulated dead skin cells that form as a result of repeated friction against your finger. Also sometimes called a “writer’s bump” or a “nerd bump,” these calluses usually form from repeated use of pens, pencils, or other writing utensils.
Writer’s calluses aren’t serious, but they can sometimes cause irritation or pain. There are ways you can remove these common calluses at home and prevent future occurrences, but you should see a doctor if the bumps continue to bother you.
Writer’s bumps occur when your skin creates a barrier of dead skin cells to protect the underlying area of skin. Like other types of calluses, these bumps develop when there’s repeated friction against the skin. The resulting calluses form as a way to help prevent further skin irritation, as well as possible infections.
A writer’s callus can occur from using any type of writing tool repeatedly, including pens, pencils, and coloring markers or crayons. These bumps tend to form on the middle or ring finger, or wherever your writing utensil creates pressure against your hand.
There’s no way to surgically remove a callus. However, you can help break down the callus by soaking, gently exfoliating, and moisturizing the area. Some drugstore products may also help. It may take several days or weeks for a writer’s callus to completely go away.
You may be able to remove a writer’s callus via soaking and exfoliation. First, soak the affected finger in warm water for up to 10 minutes at a time. Use a washcloth, pumice stone, or nail file to help gently exfoliate the dead skin cells. Do not cut off the callus as it could lead to an infection.
Moisturizing the callus can also help hydrate the bump and break down the dead skin cells over time. Consider using the following:
- aloe vera gel or lotion
- castor oil
- coconut oil
- diluted tea tree oil
- olive oil
- shea butter
- vitamin E oil
If home remedies don’t work, consider trying over-the-counter treatments like salicylic acid. These help by breaking down the dead skin cells that make up your callus. You can find salicylic acid in liquid, lotion, and patch form.
Writer’s calluses usually resolve on their own over time. However, if you write on a regular basis, you will need to change some of your habits to help soften the callus while preventing it from coming back. You might also need some new writing gear to protect your fingers.
Consider the following preventive tips:
Finger protectors for writing
If comfortable, wearing cotton gloves can help protect your fingers from writer’s calluses. You may also wear a thick bandage or piece of moleskin around the affected area of skin to help offer a barrier against friction.
You can also help protect your fingers against writing friction by adding a barrier to the writing utensil itself. Rubber or foam pencil grips can be slid on your pencils for some added cushion. Consider choosing pens that already have built-in rubber grips for added protection.
Relax your grip
Sometimes calluses can form on the fingers from gripping writing utensils too tightly. Relax your form and avoid pressing your pen or pencil too hard against the paper. With continued reduction in pressure along with other preventive measures, you may notice your writer’s bump gradually disappears.
Alternate writing instruments
Calluses from writing develop after repeated use of the same pen or pencil. You can help offset some of this friction by alternating between different writing instruments.
For example, if you typically use the signature textured yellow No. 2 pencil, switch it out for a smooth version instead. You might also consider typing or recording any notes you might be taking to give your fingers a break from handwriting.
One of the most effective ways to prevent a writer’s callus is by taking frequent breaks from the activities that are causing it. Whether you are writing by hand, taking notes, or coloring, take small breaks every few minutes to stretch out your hands and fingers. Doing so also gives your fingers a chance to recover from the friction of the utensils you’re using.
A writer’s callus can be a nuisance, but these bumps are usually just that and don’t cause any pain or serious problems. Calluses alone aren’t prone to infection, but picking or cutting them could increase your risk.
Call a doctor right away if you experience inflammation, pain, bleeding, and pus at the site of the bump. These could indicate an infection.